ECOBANK group posted record results for 2006 as its balance sheet grew by 59% to US$3.5 billion while gross revenues before interest expense increased by 46% to $419 million and profit before tax jumped from 73.7% to $129.3 million, representing 75%.
The Group maintains its accounts in US dollars and its results are in accordance with international financial reporting standards.
The results of the group are being published ahead of the company's annual general meeting to be held in Cotonou, Republic of Benin, on April 27th.
“We are particularly proud of this year's results, which testify to the growing strength of our institution”, said Mandé Sidibé, President of the Ecobank Group.
“They represent the best reward to the good work and great dedication of the Ecobank staff and management in achieving our main goal of building a world class African banking group”, he added.
At the annual general meeting, the Group will be able to “delight its shareholders”, added the ECOBANK group Chief Executive officer, Arnold Ekpe.
He said the Group was proposing a one for 10 bonus issue and a final dividend of 1 cent per share, bringing the total dividend in the year to US$18.3 million or an increase of 71% over 2005 figures.
This follows earlier shareholder value-enhancing actions, including a one-for-one stock split in January and a one-for-five bonus share issue previously delivered in 2006.
The ECOBANK Group has recorded tremendous growth over the last few years. It is now present in 18 African countries. No other bank has a larger network on the continent.
The Group has also a growing investment banking business and is building the first-ever shared services centre in West Africa, based in Accra, Ghana.
During the year, the group acquired the deposit liabilities and branches of All States Trust Bank in Nigeria. It took also a majority control of a bank in Chad, the BIAT and has recently secured control of another in Central African Republic, the BICA.
Furthermore, it has opened new subsidiaries in Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau and has been granted a license to operate in Sao Tome and Principe.
Ecobank's expansion has been achieved by leveraging on its first mover advantage as the leading regional bank in Africa. Building on this momentum, it is currently exploring opportunities in Eastern and Southern Africa as part of its Pan-African strategy.
In this respect, at a pre-AGM conference in Bamako, on March 17th, the Group reported that it was looking to raise additional capital at the group and selected subsidiaries levels. It plans to increase its capital base to 1.2 billion dollars at the end of this year in order to finance its geographical expansion and enhance its technological platform.
Styling itself as the Pan-African bank focused on Africa, Ecobank is widely considered the leading independent regional bank in Africa with a network of over 300 branches and offices across West and Central Africa.