Given the woeful performance of the economy in 2016, several industry experts were expecting similarly woeful results for banks and losses for investors. The reverse seems to be the case as analysis from Financial Vanguard on the 2016 results so far released, show a 13% rise in total dividend income from N143.3 billion in 2015 to N162 billion. The analysis further showed that bank directors held 10.15 billion shares representing 5.5% of the banks’ total 184.8 billion shares.
Whilst shareholders are happy to have avoided a drop in dividend income, bank directors have every reason to be more grateful. A look at the table below reveals why.
From above, it appears, Jim Ovia, the Chairman and Founder of Zenith Bank earned the most from the dividend windfall. At N5.9 billion, his dividend earnings top that of any other bank director on the list analysed by Vanguard. The Bank directors on the list in total received N10.1 billion.
In Nigeria, dividend is taxed at 10% flat suggesting the government would have made about N16.2 billion in withholding taxes.
A massive drop in the value of shares of most quoted companies in Nigeria has made dividend payment an alternative and attractive income to most investors. Dividend yields for banks have averaged 8% this year, higher than the 5% typically posted by most Nigerian banks. Despite been less that the 17% obtainable from less risky investments like Treasury Bills, investors who have seen the value of their stocks severely impaired, will be happy to accept dividends, let alone one that suggest a higher yield.
For the bank directors, their goals are somewhat different. Dividend payments is just one of the minor reasons for retaining controlling shares in businesses.