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Ecobank writes off N221.7b loan, posts N50b loss upon resilient performance

Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), has announced the cleanup of its books of non-performing loans, by making a provision of N221.7 billion in its 2016 audited accounts.

The results released on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on April 18, showed that the bank recorded a growth of 22.3 per cent in gross earnings to N665 billion in 2016, from N542.7 billion in 2015.

In his remarks, the Group Chief Executive Officer of ETI, Mr. Ade Ayeyemi said group revenues remained resilient despite a tough year of macro- economic headwinds.

Ayeyemi said the headwinds included a weaker economic environment, particularly in Nigeria, and the weakening of its reporting currency in terms of dollar with African currency, especially the Nigerian Naira where 40 per cent of the group’s revenues have historically been generated.

“Separately, our end of year bottom line performance has been impacted by our voluntary adoption of a full impairment charge regarding our legacy loan portfolio, for which a resolution vehicle was set up.

“The first private sector funded resolution vehicle of its kind in Nigeria, with the sole objective of ring-fencing the legacy loans from Nigeria’s core bank. This, among others, would allow management to focus on delivering results.

“Our business philosophy was founded on international best practice in terms of accounting and asset quality.

“So whilst the impairment charge has impacted our earnings, our accounting treatment has been for the right reasons and we are in better shape for the future as a result,” he said.

While assuring that stakeholders that the group has strengthened its entire risk management architecture, he said the bank would also also focus on bringing down impairment cost.

According to him, the bank will also improve the collection and what have been provided for so that the bottom line would be robust going forward.

Ayeyemi disclosed that the proposed $400 million convertible bond issue will be used sensibly and profitably, of which $200 million would be used to repay the short-term financing used in setting up the resolution vehicle.

“The remaining $200 million is for a conscious debt restructure of the maturity profile of the ETI Holdco balance sheet.

“We are delighted to have very high subscription levels to the issue from existing shareholders, in the region of $300 million.

“The conversion price of the offer is six cents compared to a current price of three cents with an interest rate of 6.46 per cent above LIBOR,” he said.

He averred further that “Our ability to deliver a leading service for our customers which will be reflected in improved key performance indicators in 2017 and beyond. Ecobank’s twin goals are generating sustainable returns above the cost of equity whilst maintaining the highest international standards and we treat both goals equally”.

“Reputations are hard won and easily lost and we will never compromise that. We have a bright future ahead and I look forward to the future with confidence.

The result showed that the net interest income rose by 25.3 per cent to N284 billion, from N226.6 billion in 2015.

Profit before impairment charges stood at N188 billion, up from N146 billion.

ETI disclosed that the N221.7 billion impairment charges led the company to close the year with a loss before tax of N33.7 billion compared with a profit before tax of N40.5 billion in 2015. The bank added that loss after tax stood at N52 billion, as against a profit after tax of N21.25 billion in 2015.

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