FOR the first time in seventy-one years, leading financial institution, United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) virtually by proxy on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 paying N1 per 50 kobo shares to shareholders as it promised the previous year despite the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
This is just as the Bank’s stakeholders commended the Board of Directors and management for the proactive role it is playing in helping to combat the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic across the African continent with its N5bn (USD14 million) contribution to the fight against this virus.
The AGM, which had in attendance shareholders, management and staff members, together with representatives of relevant regulatory bodies, was held using an Online Meetings Platform, in accordance with Guidelines issued by the Corporate Affairs Commission.
UBA Group Chairman, Tony O. Elumelu who opened the meeting noted this was a very special meeting, held in extraordinary circumstances. It was only right at the outset to express the Group’s deep appreciation to all the health workers across Africa, who are at the forefront of fighting the deadly pandemic.
The Group Chairman also commended the Federal and State governments in Nigeria and governments across Africa, for their rapid actions against the threat. He acknowledged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele for his various initiatives in mobilizing the private sector to provide support, medical care and palliatives to reduce the effect of the scourge on citizens.
Mr Elumelu said “Our commitment to improving lives in Africa is a long-term one, which we do not take lightly, as we assist governments in Africa to curb this pandemic and help sustain employment across the continent. I want to also thank the UBA Board of Directors, who have been responsive in this time of crisis, as the Group donates $14m to assist governments to fight the COVID-19 Pandemic in Nigeria and Africa.”
He also thanked executive management and members of staff, as he assured shareholders, that despite the pandemic, UBA had delivered an impressive performance in its just released first quarter results. He also noted that the Group was well prepared for the crisis, having put in place effective measures to ensure that its operations continue smoothly. Mr. Elumelu underlined the fact that the Group’s exposure to the oil and gas sector was well within prudential guidelines.
Shareholders at the meeting commended the Board of Directors and management for the proactive role that the Group has been playing in helping to lessen the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic across the African continent and its robust financial performance, despite a difficult macroeconomic outlook.
UBA Shareholder and President of Association for the Advancement of the Rights of Nigeria Shareholders, Dr Umar Farouk applauded the Group for the contribution of N5bn (USD14 million) to the fight against Covid19, adding that the move was unprecedented and will substantially support governments, as they work to tame the scourge. He also hailed the twenty per cent increase in dividends that the Bank proposed to pay to shareholders.
He said, “I am also happy that you fulfilled the promise you made at the AGM last year to pay dividends in Naira and not kobo, by paying N1 per 50 kobo shares to shareholders, in this difficult time. We have seen the first quarter results, and we are particularly happy about the performance of our subsidiaries across Africa.”
Detailing how UBA has reacted effectively during the pandemic, the GMD Kennedy Uzoka said, “As you know, UBA is a learning organisation, we are not a Nigerian bank, but a pan-African Bank operating in 20 African countries and also in the UK, the USA and France. When we learnt about this pandemic, we immediately activated our business continuity plan. All the investments we have made over the years in the area of technology will begin to yield now, because already we have continued to meet the needs of customers in terms of digital patronage, owing to the growing traffic we have been receiving in the past few weeks. We are well prepared for all situations,” Uzoka assured.
While expressing hope that a vaccine is found for the coronavirus, Uzoka disclosed that UBA will continually do business in a way to ensure that customers do not have to physically be in the bank. “We are set to take our business to the customers wherever they are and however they want it,” he said. “As our first quarter results indicate, we can produce robust results, despite the challenges. We are buoyed by our significant geographic diversification, our historic investment in efficiency and the dedication of our staff. Our commitment to our loyal shareholders is amply demonstrated in our progressive dividend policy.”
United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than twenty million customers, across 1,000 business offices and customer touch points, in 20 African countries. With presence in New York, London and Paris, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail, commercial and corporate banking, innovative cross-border payments and remittances, trade finance and ancillary banking services.