In a clear demonstration of its resilience, Zenith Bank Plc has announced its audited results for the half-year ended 30 June 2021, recording positive growth across key financial metrics despite a challenging macroeconomic environment exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic.
According to the bank's audited half-year financial results presented to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), the Group recorded a growth in profit before tax of 3% from NGN114 billion reported in H1 2020 to NGN117 billion in H1 2021. The Group also recorded a 9% growth in non-interest income from NGN116 billion in June 2020 to NGN127 billion in June 2021. Overall, the significant reduction in interest expense by 26% and growth in non-interest income by 9% culminated in improved profitability.
The Group's retail journey continues to deliver positive results as retail deposits grew by NGN38.2 billion from NGN1.72 trillion to NGN1.76 trillion year-to-date (YTD). Savings balances grew marginally by 2% YTD to close at NGN1.18 trillion from NGN1.16 trillion as at December 2020. The drive for increased retail deposits and a low-interest yield environment helped reduce the cost of funding from 2.2% to 1.3% in the current period. Operating expenses grew by 10% YoY, but growth remains below the inflation rate, while the Group improved its Earnings per Share (EPS) which grew 2% from NGN3.30 to NGN3.38 for the half-year ended June 2021.
The Group also increased total customer deposits by 8% to close the period at NGN5.77 trillion, demonstrating growth in the market share. Total assets grew marginally to NGN8.52 trillion as at 30 June 2021 from NGN8.48 trillion recorded as at 31 December 2020. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic induced challenges and the challenging operating environment, the Group grew its risk assets as gross loans were up by 3% YTD, from NGN2.92 trillion to NGN2.99 trillion. This was conservatively achieved at a low Non-Performance Loans (NPL) ratio of 4.51% (FYE 2020: 4.29%) and a reduced cost of risk of 1.3% (June 2020: 1.8%). Prudential ratios such as liquidity and capital adequacy also remained above regulatory thresholds at 69.9% and 22.0%, respectively.
Despite the continued prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is cautious optimism that the global economy will continue to recover as vaccination programmes are intensified. On the domestic economy, Nigeria's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 5.01% in the second quarter of 2021, and the inflation rate, which peaked in March 2021 at 18.17%, is gradually trending down (currently at 17.38% as at July 2021). The Group is well-positioned to maximise the opportunities that these recovering fundamentals present while leveraging technology to expand its retail footprints to deliver improved returns to all its stakeholders.
In recognition of its track record of excellent performance, Zenith Bank was voted as Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria in the World Finance Banking Awards 2021, Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker's Bank of the Year Awards 2020, Best Bank in Nigeria in the Global Finance World's Best Banks Awards 2020 and 2021, and Best in Corporate Governance 'Financial Services' Africa 2020 and 2021 by the Ethical Boardroom. Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, and Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the "2021 Top 1000 World Banks" Ranking by The Banker Magazine. The bank was also recognised as Bank of the Decade (People's Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Retail Bank of the year at the 2020 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Awards, and Best Company in Promotion of Good Health and Well-Being as well as Best Company in Promotion of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment at the Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility (SERAS) Awards 2020.
Zenith Bank has grown enormously in 30 years to become Nigeria’s largest and one of Africa’s largest financial institutions by tier-1 capital, with shareholders’ funds of NGN1.1 trillion ($2.64 billion) as at 31st December 2020. The Bank continues to distinguish itself in the Nigerian financial services industry through superior service offerings, unique customer experience and sound financial indices. Zenith Bank is the clear leader in the digital space with several firsts in the deployment of innovative products, solutions and an assortment of alternative channels that ensure convenience, speed and safety of transactions.