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29.03.2007 Business & Finance

Ecobank shareholders express concern

By Samuel COLEMAN

Shareholders of Ecobank Ghana took advantage of the bank's just ended Annual General Meeting to express some worries and concerns especially about the recommended dividend and the increasing social responsibility and staff cost.

The year under review (2006) saw Ecobank's dividend per share pegged at ¢673.56, an amount that many of the shareholders considered too low. One shareholder speaking on behalf of the others said the “dividends were meaningless and not good.”

Some others attributed the low dividend to the bank's aim of opening new branches and investing into other assets at the expense of maximizing dividends and said the “issue of dividends needs to be addressed seriously.”

Social responsibility was another major issue which caught the attention of Ecobank shareholders and most of them linked the low dividends in shares to the bank paying more concern and commitment to social responsibility rather than shareholders dividends.

Mr. Noah Nartey, a shareholder accused the bank of engaging in some social responsibility activities in the last year that were not planned for.

The issue of staff costs was also a source of worry for the shareholders. Ecobank's staff costs for the year 2006 amounted to about ¢108 billion as compared to ¢88 billion in 2005. Total wages and salaries billed up to about ¢89 billion which made some of the shareholders say that “the staff are earning more than the owners of the company.”

In order for the bank to cut down on its staff costs, a section of the shareholders advised that all bank staff should be on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to help reduce the banks increasing medical bill on its staff which stood at about ¢6 billion in 2006.

In addition, the shareholders advised the board of directors of the bank chaired by Tei Mensa Mante to look into the banks capital acquisition and the management of its loan assets to help lift the bank's performance in Ghana's increasingly competitive banking industry.

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