Amidst Wilting Sensitisation, 16 Companies Report N96.92bn Unclaimed Dividend

Kayode Tokede

Amid inconsistent sensitisation, a total of 16 listed companies on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) reported a sum of N96.92billion outstanding unclaimed dividend in 2023, according to investigation by THISDAY. 

This is an increase of 10.04 per cent from N88.07billion outstanding unclaimed dividend in 2022.

Unclaimed dividend are dividends paid by a company but are yet to be claimed by shareholders.

The total value of unclaimed dividends according to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has risen to N190 billion, representing a 7.35 per cent increase from N177 billion recorded in 2021.

THISDAY analysis of the companies’ audited result and accounts for the period ended December 31, 2023 revealed that Zenith Bank Plc, followed by Access Holdings Plc have the highest amount of unclaimed dividend in the banking industry.

According to 2023 audited results, Zenith Bank’s reported N30.12billion unclaimed dividend, representing an increase of 1.18 per cent from N29.7 billion reported in 2022., while Access Holdings reported N21.4billion unclaimed dividend in 2023, an increase of 15.3 per cent from N18.55billion in 2022. 

As United Bank for Africa Plc announced N14.9 billion unclaimed dividend in 2023, about 17.9 per cent from N12.63billion in 2022, Nestle Nigeria announced N7.76 billion unclaimed dividend in 2023, a growth of 2.28 per cent from N7.58billion reported in 2022. 

Notable companies with unclaimed dividend around N4 billon include; Guaranty Trust Holdings Plc (GTCO) with N4.09billion unclaimed dividend in 2023, an increase of 3.4 per cent from N3.95billion in 2022; Dangote Cement with N4.7 billion unclaimed dividend in 2023, a growth of 7 per cent from N4.4 billion in 2022 while  Stanbic IBTC Holdings closed 2023 financial year with N4.91billion unclaimed dividend in 2023,  representing an increase of 57 per cent from N3.13billion in 2022.

Others:  FCMB Group, N2.1 billion; Lafarge Africa N2.07 billion; Transcorp Incorporated, N1.73 billion; Nigerian Breweries Plc, N1.1 billion; Nascon Allied Industries Plc, N725million; BUA Cement Plc, N714.15million; MTN Nigeria Communication Plc, N381.5milion; Transcorp Hotel Plc, N211.96million and Dangote Sugar Plc, N39.3million unclaimed dividend reported in 2023 financial year.

According to capital market stakeholders, as these companies declared dividend payout in audited results for period ended December 31, 2023, unclaimed dividend in the Nigerian capital market is expected to soar when audited results for period ended December 31, 2024 are released to the investing public.

Over the years, the SEC has strived to curb escalating issue of unclaimed dividends in the capital market, albeit with limited success as the amount continues to rise annually.

The former Director-General SEC, Mr. Lamido Yuguda had launched e-Dividend Mandate Management System (eDMMS), making it easier for investors to mandate their accounts for electronic dividends.

Yuguda had in 2023 reiterated that unclaimed Trust Fund established by the government  would protect unclaimed dividends in the capital market.

“But, instead of allowing this fund to remain idle, this unclaimed fund trust fund is supposed to help in developing the country economically so that this will actually benefit both people who have this unclaimed dividend as well as other citizens who do not own them,” the former DG explained.

Market regulators and quoted companies have continued to urge investors in the capital market to register for e-dividends so that they can receive the benefits of their investments in the capital market. However, the growth of outstanding unclaimed dividends has continued to rise.

Commenting, the Vice President, Highcap Securities Limited, Mr. David Adnori, explained that unclaimed dividends are increasing every year due to several factors. According to him, the problem started several years ago during the indigenisation exercises when several shareholders made multiple subscriptions in fictitious names whose signatures they cannot remember.

He noted that the affected shareholders were also unable to open bank accounts in these fictitious names for the e-dividend collection.

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