Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), parent company of Ecobank Ghana says it is done with its strategy of fast expansion across Africa.
The Pan-African bank said it was now focusing on existing businesses with country specific strategy to grow its business.
Speaking at ETI’s annual general meeting held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Friday, the out-going Group Chief Executive Officer, Albert Essien said the bank would extend its reach in countries that it operates and make them more efficient, and more profitable.
“We would now concentrate on country specific strategies to make them run efficiently and profitability. Digital and internet banking would be receiving more attention,” he said.
Mr. Essien said, “Our diversified Pan-African business model continues to serve us well, with encouraging underlying performance in our line of businesses and geographic areas of coverage. We are pleased with our cost efficiency gains, which led to our cost-income ratio improving in 2014 to 65.4 per cent from 70.1 per cent.”
Presenting the group’s financial performance for the 2014 financial year, Emmanuel Ikazoboh, Board Chairman of ETI said the group under the period under review reported a 14 per cent increase in net revenues to $2.3 billion.
“We experienced significant growth in non-interest revenue, buoyed by a strong performance from treasury as a result of currency volatility and higher transaction volumes,” he said.
The group’s net interest income advanced by a more modest six per cent year-on-year, as strong customer loan growth was offset by a decline in the net interest margin.
Non-performing loans amounted to $ 560 million, a decrease of 25 per cent year-on-year, due largely to loan recoveries and write-offs of fully provisioned non-performing loans.
As a result, the Board Chairman said “our non-performing loans fell to a record low of 4.4 per cent, versus 6.2 per cent in 2013.”
Each of the Group’s geographical clusters achieved positive growth during the period under review, with net revenue growth exceeding that of operating costs across the board.
Mr. Ikazoboh said Ecobank Nigeria, the largest subsidiary, reported a dramatic turnaround in its fortunes with net revenues growing by 21 per cent year-on-year to nearly $ 1 billion.
He said the macroeconomic challenges faced by Ghana during 2014, particularly the 26 per cent depreciation of the Cedi relative to the dollar, had an adverse impact on the operational performance of the rest of the West Africa cluster.
“Nevertheless, efficiency improvements across the region led to a 130 basis point fall in the cost-to-income ratio to 49 per cent and the highest return on average equity of any of our clusters of 37.5 per cent,” he said.
Key approvals by shareholders
Shareholders welcomed the company’s strong performance for the year ended December 31, 2014. At the end of the year, Ecobank had US$24.2 billion in total assets and US$2.7 billion in total equity.
They also approved the company’s accounts for 2014 and the appropriation of profit of US$5.82 million for the year. A sum of US$0.87 million was transferred to special reserves and US$4.85 million to retained earnings.
Mr. Bashir Ifo, a director representing the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, who completed his term of office, was reappointed for another three-year term.
Shareholders also ratified the co-option of Dolika Banda, Graham Dempster and Sheila Mmbijjewe as directors for a term of three years respectively. Alain Francis Nkontchou was also elected as a director on the board for a three-year term.
The firms Akintola-Williams Deloitte Nigeria, and Grant Thornton, Côte d’Ivoire were appointed as Joint Auditors for a one year term.
The meeting also approved the issue of bonus shares, out of retained earnings, of one ordinary share for every 15 ordinary shares held on the closure of the company’s share register, in accordance with the rules of the stock exchanges on which Ecobank’s shares are listed.
The new shares issued will rank equally with existing ordinary shares of the company. The meeting authorised the board of directors to determine the modalities for the issue as it deems appropriate.
From David Adadevoh, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania