Africa’s foremost financial organisation, the United Bank for Africa Plc had declared its audited half-year financial returns for the period ended June 2019, noting impressive increase across key performance indices as well as a vital contribution from its African subsidiaries.
In contempt of the increasingly random environment witnessed in some of its countries of operations, the pan-African financial institution delivered double-digit growth in its profit before tax as it rose by 21 per cent to N70.3 billion for the half-year to June 2019, up from the N58.1 billion recorded in the similar period of 2018, just as its profit after tax also improved to N56.7 billion, a 29.6 per cent growth compared to N43.8 billion achieved in the corresponding period of 2018.
The profit for the first half of the year translated to an annualised return on average equity of 21.7 per cent.
According to its results filed with the Nigerian Stock Exchange, UBA recorded a 14 per cent year-on-year rise in top-line, with gross earnings of N293.7 billion, compared to N257.9 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2018.
Analysts said the performance emphasised the capacity of the Group to deliver strong performance through economic cycles in spite of the overall challenging business environment.
As of 30 June 2019, the bank’s total assets grew by 4.8 per cent, crossing the N5 trillion mark to N5.10 trillion. Its customer deposits also rose by 4.8 per cent to N3.51 trillion, compared to N3.35 trillion as at December 2018. This growth trajectory underscored UBA’s market share gain, as it increasingly wins customers through its revitalised customer service culture coupled with innovative digital banking offerings.
The bank’s shareholders’ funds remained strong at N542.5 billion, reflecting its strong capacity for internal capital generation.
In line with its culture of paying both interim and final cash dividend, the Board of Directors of UBA declared an interim dividend of N0.20 per share for every ordinary share of N0.50 each held by its shareholders.
Commenting on the results, the Group Managing Director/CEO, UBA, Mr Kennedy Uzoka said: “I am pleased with the half-year performance of the Group, having delivered 14 per cent growth in gross earnings and 21 per cent growth in profit before tax. Despite the subdued yield environment in some of our large markets, we achieved a nine per cent growth in interest income and defended the net interest margin.
“We also achieved a 39 per cent growth in our electronic banking revenues, as we broaden and deepened our digital banking play across Africa. Revenues from our remittance and funds transfer businesses grew 69 per cent and 53 per cent respectively. All these factors attest to the efficacy of our strategies and the resilience of our business model.”
He further stated, “I am very optimistic that the ongoing Group-wide transformation programme, will in the quarters ahead, enable the bank to deliver substantial operational efficiencies and best-in-class customer service, which will ultimately boost earnings.
“We sustained our asset quality with the NPL ratio down to 5.62 per cent, from 6.45 per cent as at 2018 full year. We will continue to adopt best practice standards to grow and manage the portfolio in the quarters ahead.”
Also speaking on UBA’s results, the Group CFO, Mr Ugo Nwaghodoh, stated: “We had a strong start in the year given the prevailing macroeconomic environment across our various markets.
“There is better diversification in profit contribution as our banking subsidiaries across Africa contributed 38 per cent of the profit before tax, whilst our recently repositioned UK business contributed four per cent. We expect this dispersion to continue, as the subsidiaries consolidate on their share of the various markets.
“I am particularly delighted that the key ratios are trending in the right direction. The net interest margin is trending upwards and will continue to improve as we responsibly grow the risk asset portfolio and realign the funding mix to lower our cost of funds.
“The cost-to-income (CIR) ratio trended down to 60 per cent with our focus on balance sheet and operational efficiencies which should enable us to deliver our medium-term CIR target. Capital adequacy ratio increased to 28 per cent, from 23.6 per cent in December 2018, providing a very strong buffer for asset growth.”
UBA, Africa’s global bank, was founded 70 years ago in Nigeria and today, operates in 20 African countries and in the United Kingdom, the USA and with presence in France. UBA serves over 17 million customers across the globe with more than 1,000 branches and touchpoints.