Shareholders of Access Bank Plc on Wednesday commended the bank’s consistent dividend policy as well as the board’s report of over N4 trillion in the lender’s balance sheet.

The shareholders also noted that the bank’s corporate five year strategic objective will continue to enhance the bank’s operations and ensure a more impressive dividend pay-out.

During the 2017 financial year, the Board paid an interim dividend of 25 Kobo per share, for the half-year ended June 30, 2017. In light of recent performance, the board recommended the payment of a final dividend of 40 Kobo per share, bringing total dividend for the year ended December 31, 2017 to 65 kobo per share.

Leaders of the shareholders’ group who spoke at the Bank’s 29th Annual General Meeting in Lagos said that the N4 trillion balance sheet mark achieved by the bank has solidified its position as a major player in the financial sector.

The shareholders that contributed at the meeting include Adebayo Adeleke of Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Bisi Bakare, President of the Pragmatic Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN) and Muktar Muktar, President, Trusted Shareholders’ Association of Nigeria (TSAN).

The bank posted a gross earnings growth of 20 per cent, from N381.1 billion in 2016 to N459.1 billion in 2017.Shareholders’ Funds and Customer Deposits climbed by 13.4 per cent and 7.5 per cent from N454.5 billion in 2016 to N515.4 billion 2017 and N2.1 billion in 2016 to N2.2 billion in 2017 respectively.

Speaking at the meeting, the Group Managing Director/CEO, Herbert Wigwe said “We are having increase on all indices; Earnings per Share, EPS, cost of risk and capital adequacy ratio which are the major ratios financial institutions are measured by. Looking at the top-line of major banks, we are doing well.”

Commenting on the results, Wigwe said: “Our operating performance in 2017 was impacted by the residual effects of macro-economic conditions of 2016, characterised by slow economic expansion and adverse credit conditions, which resulted in making conservative provisions on our loan book.

“Despite the macro and regulatory headwinds, our underlying business remained strong as reflected in the gross earnings growth of 20 percent to N459 billion in 2017. We grew our loan book to position it for improved earnings, whilst driving deposit mobilization from targeted segments to diversify our funding base, he added.

In another development, the bank has released its unaudited financial results for the first quarter (Q1) ended March 31, 2018 showing an increase of 19 percent in gross earnings to N137.5 billion from N116 billion in the corresponding period of March 2017, with interest income and non-interest income contributing 70 percent and 30 percent respectively.

The bank recorded a Profit Before Tax (PBT) of N27.4 billion while Profit After Tax (PAT) dipped to N22.1 billion from N22.4 billion in Q1 2017.

The financial report released by the NSE showed a seven percent growth in Total Assets as the bank closed the quarter ended March 2018 with Total Assets of N4.38 trillion from N4.10 trillion in December 2017.The Group‘s Capital and Liquidity Ratios (CAR) of 19.3 percent and 41.3 percent respectively, remained in excess of the minimum regulatory requirement and would support the business adequately