BY KAYODE TOKEDE, Lagos
Despite the drive by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to cut down on unclaimed dividends in the financial sector, five Nigerian commercial banks recorded N14.9billion which remained unclaimed by shareholders as at 2016.
SEC had announced early this year that more than N30 billion was paid to shareholders from the backlog of unclaimed dividends worth over N80 billion.
Capital market stakeholders said that unclaimed dividends in the industry tends to fluctuates as shareholders claim their money over the time.
According to them, sky rocked commercial banks unclaimed dividend can be alluded to shareholders not embracing the regulating bodies’ stipulated rules.
LEADERSHIP Sunday findings revealed that some banks, apart from First Bank of Nigeria Holdings, recorded sky rocketed unclaimed dividends in the year under review to highlight persistent challenges that awaits apex capital market regulating body.
Specifically, First Bank of Nigeria Holdings reported N5.8 billion unclaimed dividends in 2016 as against N4.2 billion recorded in 2015, followed by United Bank for Africa Plc which announced N4.2 billion unclaimed dividends in 2016 and reported nothing in the previous year.
Shareholders of First Bank of Nigeria Holdings Plc had approved a dividend of N5.38 billion in 2015 and N7.18 billion in 2016.
The likes of First City Monument Bank Plc reported N496 million unclaimed dividend in 2016, 95 per cent above N255 million in 2015, while Diamond Bank unclaimed dividend dropped by 17.6 per cent from N1.7 billion to N1.4 billion in 2016.
Interestingly, Diamond Bank last declared dividend N0.10 in 2014 despite announcing profit after tax that moved from N28.5 billion in 2013 to N25.5 billion recorded in 2014.
Zenith Bank Plc also reported N2.9 billion unclaimed dividend in 2016. The financial institution reported nothing in 2015.
Speaking with our correspondent on banks’ increased unclaimed dividend, the former national secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Mr. Adebayo Adeleke, said the unclaimed dividend in the financial sector might wing because shareholders claim their dividend on daily basis.
He said, “The recent declared dividend by banks that are yet to be claimed might be responsible for continued increase in the unclaimed figures. I want to believe it is a cut-off issue because on daily basis, shareholders are still claiming their dividend.
“The E-dividend mandate by SEC has also contributed to drop in unclaimed dividend in the sector and it remains a key driver that has impacted on the capital market positively”.
On his part, the Chairman, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Boniface Okezie, questioned SEC over unsteady unclaimed dividend figures over the years.
He noted that SEC’s E-mandate has not resolved the unclaimed dividend challenges facing the capital market.
“Why is an unclaimed dividend figure growing? The management of SEC are not doing their work. How do they have the data of those unclaimed dividend in the capital market and amount paid out to shareholders?” He stated.