While Shareholders of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) – parent company of the 36 Ecobank subsidiaries in Africa, welcomed the news of $322 million profit in the year ending 31 December 2018, a lot more has followed since the Group’s 31st Annual General Meeting took place at its HQ in Lome, Togo on Thursday. reGina Jane Jere was there and reports.
The Annual Report released during the AGM, reveals that ETI delivered $322 million profit in 2018, up $140 million, or 77%, compared to $182 million in 2017. This is the second year of a profitable bounce back by the Group, after it posted a loss in 2016.
And while presenting the annual financial report at the AGM – held on 25 April – Ecobank Group Chairman Emmanuel Ikazoboh, expressed confidence and indicated that the bank is on a solid path.
“Over the last few years we have taken strong measures to ‘Secure the Foundations’ of Ecobank and the Board is confident that our strategy, and the actions that we have taken so far, have positioned the company for sustainable future growth with a return on equity above the cost of equity,” he said.
Passion for digital
He also shared some of the Group’s other highlights of the year, which included Ecobank being named Africa’s Best and Most Innovative Retail Bank by African Banker magazine and winning the Best Digital Strategy Award from Retail Banker International. The bank also received nominations for the Best Payment Innovation for Ecobank Xpress Cash and Product Innovation of the Year for our Ecobank Mobile App.
“We have embraced digitisation with a fierce passion as we are keenly aware of the impact that technology – particularly financial technology – is having on the banking industry. We have developed some amazing digital products that are enriching our customers’ experience,” he stated.
And Ecobank Group Chief Executive Officer, Ade Ayeyemi added: “It is the long-term financial success of the company that remains paramount. As such, we will continue to build on and enhance the technology platforms that enable us to engage with more customers and partners and deploy a robust digital communications strategy.”
“The traditional bank model that we all know is rapidly changing with technology and we must continue to position ourselves effectively to succeed in this technological journey of transformation,” he explained further.
Liquidity and Dividend
However, despite these strategies and what he termed a “solid” financial performance, Ikazoboh also shared that company was taking a prudent decision on the issue of payment of dividends.
“The Board recognizes the importance of dividends payouts to our shareholders… However, having considered factors such as the impending regulatory capital requirements of the Group and the need to build the holding company’s liquidity buffers, we are not recommending the payment of a dividend…” he explained.
The Shareholders approved all the resolutions tabled at the AGM, which included the ratification of the co-option of Mrs. Aichatou Agne Pouye, Ms. Arunma Oteh and Dr. Aasim Ahmad Qureshi as Directors. Mrs. Pouye and Ms. Oteh are Independent Directors and Dr. Qureshi is a nominee of Qatar National Bank. Shareholders also voted to renew the mandates for three years of Group CEO Ade Ayeyemi, Dr. Catherine Ngahu and Mr. Mfundo Nkuhlu (a nominee of Nedbank Group Limited) who had completed their three-year terms of office as Directors.
Sustainability for social change
The AGM also provided a platform for the bank to demonstrate its commitment to promoting positive environmental and social change by awarding its inaugural Group Chairman Sustainability Award – which was awarded at a cocktail dinner to Ecobank Ghana. The award, encourages Ecobank affiliates and employees to develop sustainable projects and transactions with beneficial impacts on health, education, financial inclusion.
Ecobank Ghana, in collaboration with the Ghanaian Ministry of Education, provided training to non-formal educational instructors on financial literacy and Ecobank’s digital services. With active employee engagement, the project is expected to empower 500,000 Ghanaian participants annually, including cocoa farmers and women-traders. Other finalists were Ecobank Burkina Faso, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The 2020 edition of the Awards will be held in Ghana.
Leavers and incomers
Meanwhile the Ecobank Group has also announced the retirement of Samuel Ashitey Adjei, Managing Director of its affiliate Ecobank Kenya and Regional Executive, for Central, Eastern and Southern Africa (CESA), after 29 years of service at Ecobank. During the Sustainability Awards ceremony, Adjei was the recipient the Honourary Sustainability Champion. “In charting forward our positive, sustainable socio-economic, financial and environmental stewardship, we need exemplary role models to drive, guide and execute our commitment..[and Sam] has always been supportive of the sustainability commitment and activities of Ecobank with passion, dedication and understanding,” Group CEO Ayeyemi said as he presented him the award. Cheick Travaly, who is currently the Regional Chief Operating Officer for CESA, will succeed Adjei.
Also leaving the company is Greg Davis, Chief Financial Officer and Group Executive Finance. Ayo Adepoju, Vice President, Group Finance has been appointed acting CFO.