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Business News of Thursday, 28 February 2013

Source: B&FT

Zenith soars with solid results

Zenith Bank (Ghana) Limited says it looks forward to deepening its engagement with clients in all sectors of the economy, after the bank posted another year of impressive growth in its balance sheet and profits.

The bank’s assets were boosted by 35 percent to GH¢950million, while pre-tax earnings surged by 54 percent to GH¢40million, according to 2012 financial statements released today. The robust balance-sheet outturn was driven by customer deposits, which increased by 35 percent, the statements showed.

“We have always remained focused on our chosen vision, which is to be a reference point in the provision of prompt, flawless and innovative banking services in Ghana,” said Daniel Asiedu, Managing Director/CEO. “This remarkable performance, which balances profitability with growth, is a strong vote of confidence in our vision by customers,” he added.

Net interest income more than doubled to GH¢54.6million after interest income improved and interest expenses were lowered. Interest on loans gained by GHC7.2million following a 63 percent expansion of the bank’s loan-book to GHC326million, despite which the non-performing loans ratio declined from 11.2 percent to 8.3 percent in the period.

Interest on government securities also rose by GH¢6.94 million, reflecting the higher yields the Bank of Ghana (BoG) offered on Treasuries in a bid to shore up the cedi last year. The bank’s total operating income was also up by 42 percent to GH¢105million, and returns on assets and equity were 5 percent and 23 percent respectively.

Mr. Asiedu attributed the fall in interest expenses -- from GH¢37million in 2011 to GH¢25million last year -- to the bank’s deposit mobilisation strategy, led by the current-accounts segment. He said the bank has a diversified loan portfolio as it is “open to mutually-beneficial transactions with customers and businesses from all industries”.

In 2012 Zenith Bank continued its pursuit of innovation-driven banking, expanding its electronic-product offering to include Z-Web Acquiring (Verified by Visa) -- a highly-secure Visa electronic card that enables customers to purchase goods online and which was the first of its kind in Ghana.

The bank, in its eighth year in the country, was also one of two in the industry to be mandated by the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) last year to run the Automated Clearing House (ACH) Direct Debit/Credit Scheme -- an electronic platform for making recurring payments of a specified amount at specific dates through a customer’s instruction to his bankers.

Subsequently, the bank entered into a partnership with Multichoice Ghana to allow DStv customers pay their subscriptions using the platform -- with Zenith Bank receiving the payments and paying into Multichoice’s account.

Mr. Asiedu said the impact of Zenith Bank Ghana, which is a subsidiary of Zenith Bank Plc of Nigeria, on customers and the Ghanaian economy has been “phenomenal”. “We have brought a lot more options to the Ghanaian banking customer. As a trailblazer in product innovation, we have offered customers products they could only dream of not too long before.”

On the outlook, he said the bank is very confident about the prospects for the economy in 2013, as economic growth is expected to be strong and the forecasts point to an uptick in the output and prices of the country’s main commodities.

“We see a lot of opportunities in these. And already we have built the organisational structure, the technological platform, the managerial experience and the financial strength that position us to capture and process these opportunities for the benefit of our stakeholders.”

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