BY CHINYERE OBIORA, LAGOS – Despite significant headwinds in the global economic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Union Bank Plc says it recorded Profit Before Tax (PBT) of 11.3 billion for the half year result ended June 30, 2020.
The amount represents an increase of about N100 million or 0.89 per cent compared with N11.2 billion reported the same period of 2019.
The bank’s recently released half year result showed that gross earning up by 10 per cent to N79.9 billion from N27.4 billion recorded in the comparative period of last year.
According to the bank, the improved revenue was driven by an increase in earning assets, even as interest income went up by six per cent to N57.2 billion from 53.8 billion recorded in half year of 2019.
Analysis of the bank’s half year result showed that customers’ deposits rose by 12 per cent to N995.2 billion against N886.3 billion reported December 2019, reflecting increased demand for its innovative offerings and the continued benefits of the brand growth.
Commenting on the results, the Chief Executive Officer, Emeka Emuwa, said: “The impact of COVID-19 and associated movement restrictions on the Bank and the wider economy has been broad. The total lockdown of major commercial centers Lagos, Abuja and Ogun and partial lockdowns across the country, slowed business operations in Q2 2020.
“Notwithstanding these significant headwinds, the Bank delivered a 10 per cent increase in its top line revenue of N79.9 billion for half year 2020. In addition, net interest income before impairments is up 21 per cent to N28.0 billion and non-interest income up 22 per cent to N22.7 billion.”
Emuwa further explained that; “The slowdown limited growth in key income lines, including fees, commissions and cash recoveries”, adding; “However, we continue to reinforce the use of our digital channels with 90 per cent of transactions completed digitally in half year 2020 against 57 per cent in the same period of 2019, which translated to a 42 per cent growth in e-business fees from N2.5 billion in half year 2019 to N3.6 billion in 2020.”
“We deliberately grew our loan portfolio both in the retail and commercial/corporate banking space resulting in a 6 per cent growth in interest income. Given the constrained operating environment, we continue to pro-actively monitor our loan portfolio and support our customers in line with the Central Bank’s guidance on forbearances.
“Nevertheless, growing our loan book remains a strategic focus area for us for the rest of the year as we continue to identify new opportunities emerging in the face of the pandemic.”
On its palliatives to tackle the raging coronavirus pandemic, he said; “I am pleased that the Bank has been able to support our employees, customers and the wider community through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“In particular, the Union Rise Challenge, which we launched in June, recognised and rewarded customers, who In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic are rising to support their communities. The Bank awarded N15 million to 90 recipients over a period of 4 weeks and helped amplify the great work of over 1500 community initiatives that were submitted through the campaign.
As we navigate the realities of the pandemic for the remainder of the year, we will continue to focus on increasing transaction volumes on our electronic channels, managing cost and strategic targeting of key customer segments to ensure we end the year well.
We will also continue to prioritise the health and safety of our employees and customers, while finding innovative ways to meet and exceed our customer expectations.”
Speaking on the H1 2020 numbers, Chief Financial Officer, Joe Mbulu said “Our H1-2020 Bank numbers reflect the performance of our continuing operations for the period.
“Notwithstanding increasing inflation and unexpected costs related to the changes to our operating structures during COVID-19 lockdown, we have been able to keep operating expenses under control during H1 2020. This is indicative of the strength of our Long-Term Efficiency Acceleration Programme (LEAP) which continues to optimise key cost lines.
“We also grew customer deposits by 12 per cent to N995.2 billion from N886.4 billion in December 2019 as a result of increased customer demand for our banking products and the continued positive perception of our brand. We continue to deliberately expand our loan book with a focus on key industry segments.”
“As impairments began to rise as a result of COVID-19 disruptions, the NPL ratio ticked up marginally to 6.3 per cent, compared to 5.8 per cent in December 2019, while our Capital Adequacy Ratio is at 19.2 per cent, remaining well above the regulatory threshold.
“We remain focused on achieving our 2020 objectives leveraging our solid risk management structures and executing our business priorities”, the bank’s chief assured