Stocktaking: Ebenezer Onyeagwu’s First Year As CEO Of Zenith Bank.


On June 1 2019, Ebenezer Onyeagwu assumed the position of Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, taking over from Peter Amangbo after the expiration of his 5-year tenure.

According to the bank’s official statement, his appointment was in line with the succession strategy of grooming leaders from within. Onyeagwu, at the time, already had almost 30 years’ banking experience, with 17 years spent in Zenith Bank, so if anyone knew the bank well enough to take up the position, it surely would have been him.

He had served as Executive Director, General Manager, Deputy General Manager and Senior Manager, and had basically covered all of the bank’s departments, from Financial Control and Strategic Planning, to Risk Management, Retail Banking, Institutional and Corporate Banking Business Portfolios, IT Group, Credit Administration, and Treasury and Foreign Exchange Trading,

This article seeks to highlight the various strides he has achieved in his first year as the CEO of Nigeri’s No. 1 bank.

Coming in at the end of the second quarter, the impact of Onyeagwu’s leadership would first be seen in the Q3 results. When the results were released sometime in November, the first thing that was obvious was that gross earnings increased by 4% to N491.3 billion when compared to Q3 of the previous year where the group recorded gross earnings of N474.6 billion.

With the expansion of channels and platforms of services, fees from electronic products doubled to N35.3 billion from N17.6 billion in Q3 2018. Profit Before Tax (PBT) grew by 5% from N167.3 billion in Q3 2018 to a record N176.2 billion in Q3 2019.

The conclusion at that point was that the group had applied cost optimization strategies and aggressive retail banking to get the results it was showing. Earnings Per Share (EPS) also grew by 5% from N4.58 in Q3 2018 to N4.80 in Q3 2019.

The group increased its share of the industry deposits, with customer deposits growing to N3.95 trillion from N3.69 trillion.

All of these gains would be consolidated by the end of 2019 when the Group released the FY 2019 results.

Compared to FY 2018, the Zenith Bank Group recorded 5% growth in gross earnings from N630.3 billion to N662.3 billion, with fees on electronic products growing by over 100% from N20.4 billion in 2018 to N42.5 billion in 2019.

Total assets also increased by 7% from N5.96 trillion to N6.35 trillion, and Earnings per Share (EPS) grew 8% from N6.15 to N6.65 in 2019. Profit before Tax increased, by 5% from N232 billion in 2018 to N243 billion in 2019.

The group increased its share of the market as it secured more customer deposits across the corporate and retail space, with deposits growing by 15% to close at N4.26 trillion. The strategy, according to the bank’s report, was efficient cost management while employing digital innovation and digital assets to expand retail franchises.

Among all five tier 1 banks, Zenith Bank Plc registered the highest profit after tax, which also increased from N193.42 billion in 2018 to N208.84 billion in 2019.

The Q1 2020 results was released on April 29, and again, there was an all-round improvement compared to Q1 2019. Gross earnings were 6% higher than last year’s first quarter (N158.1 billion in March 2019 to N166.8 billion), Non-interest income practically exploded by 43% (from N32.7 billion in Q1 2019 to N46.6 billion in Q1 2020).

Profit before tax improved by 3% from N57.3 billion in Q1 2019 to N58.8 billion in Q1 2020.

Customer deposits increased by some N200 billion in the quarter, increasing the total customer deposits from N4.26 trillion in December 2019 to N4.46 trillion by the end of the first quarter of 2020.

As with other banks, the COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges for Zenith bank, but as contained in the report, the bank activated its business continuity plan, while deploying enhanced digital channels to handle the increased volumes of customer transactions.

It is clear to both shareholders and board management, at this point, that picking an MD from within the existing structure definitely paid off.  Currently, using Profit after tax, market share value, and earnings per share, one can say that Zenith Bank is cruising at the number one position among Nigeria’s top banks.

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