United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) has achieved N494 billion gross earnings in its 2018 operations, against to N461.6 billion recorded in the corresponding period in 2017.
The bank's Profit After Tax (PAT) also rose from N77.5 billion in 2017, to N78.6 billion during the year under review.
These were contained in its audited 2018 financial result, which represented a seven per cent rise in gross earnings and 1.4 per cent increase in profit after tax, despite the general difficult operating environment.
But the bank attributed the improved performance to its consistent drive for retail deposit mobilisation, as well as optimising funding mix to enhance its net interest margin over the medium term.
Further breakdown of the bank's full year performance indicated that profit before tax stood at N106.8 billion, representing 2.4 per cent growth from N104.2 billion in 2017.
However, operating expenses grew by 4.1 per cent to N197.3 billion, compared to N189.7 billion in 2017, due to lower foreign exchange trading income, while total assets grew significantly by 19.7 per cent to an unprecedented N4.9 trillion for the year under review.
Already, financial analysts have said the improved performance largely demonstrates the benefits of the group's pan-African footprints, with continued growth in market share in key countries of operations.
Reflecting the modest appetite of the bank in the year under review, as well as impact of International Financial Reporting Standards 9 (IFRS 9) implementations, net loans, according to the bank, recorded a prudent 3.9 per cent growth to N1.72 trillion, while customer deposits increased by a remarkable 22.5 per cent to N3.3 trillion, compared to N2.7 trillion recorded in the corresponding period of 2017.
Contrastingly, shareholders' funds decreased marginally by 4.8 per cent to N502.6 billion, reflecting the impact of IFRS 9 implementation.
The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Kennedy Uzoka, noted that the year under review was important for the group, as it gained further market share in many countries f operations.
Moreso, he expressed satisfaction at strategic achievements made in the year, including the start of wholesale banking operations in London, as it seeks to leverage the Group's unique network across Africa.
"Defying the relatively weak economic growth in Africa, earnings were positive and we grew our balance sheet by 20 per cent, driven by the 23 per cent growth in our deposit funding. In a period of economic uncertainty, we have focused on retail deposit mobilisation, with exciting results.
"We recorded a 48 per cent year-on-year growth in retail deposits and improved our CASA ratio to 77 per cent, optimising our funding mix, which will enhance our net interest margin over the medium term," Uzoka said.
He remained confident that the bank's performance would be stronger in the years ahead, assuring that shareholders would enjoy greater dividends, as the group is well positioned to take advantage of imminent fiscal reforms across many economies in Africa to stimulate new opportunities in infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture and resource sectors.
He added: "Our operations in the United Kingdom now offer end-to-end trade, treasury, structured finance, wholesale deposit taking and ancillary services.
"With this development, we are better positioned to fulfill our aspiration of deepening trade and capital flows between Europe and Africa. We are also pleased with the market acceptance of our new operation in Mali.
"Having said this, I am excited by the profitability of our ex-Nigeria subsidiaries, which now contributes an impressive 40 per cent earnings to the Group.
"At the moment, our Nigerian business is benefiting from our product and operational focus, gaining market share." - most importantly, the increasing penetration of our retail offerings is reassuring, as this fundamental progress aligns with our strategy of focusing on sustainable growth".