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N1.6bn unclaimed dividends worry Nestle


Obinna Chima 03/05/2010 17:44:00

The Chairman, Nestle Nigeria Plc, Chief Olusegun Osunkeye has expressed concern over the N1.6 billion unclaimed shareholders' dividends in its register. This formed part of his speech at the Company's 41st annual general meeting held in Lagos last Tuesday.

He disclosed that the huge figure was a source of concern to the Company's Board of Directors, listing death and change of address as factors responsible for the situation. Osunkeye said, “We would be glad to receive suggestions from shareholders on how to reduce the volume because it is a source of concern to the Board.”According to the company's 2009 result, the figure comprises of amount unclaimed between 1999 and December 2009.In response, the National Co-ordinator, Independent Shareholders Association (ISAN), Sir Sunny Nwosu, faulted the bill on unclaimed dividend currently at the National Assembly.

He argued, “Some 'busy body' people are working on taking the unclaimed dividend. There is a bill before the National Assembly and they are pushing to collect the money because it does not belong to them. I think you (Nestle) should liaise with the judiciary to fasten the process of acquiring a Letter of Administration so that those to inherit them can do that.”On his part, the National Co-ordinator, Proactive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr. Taiwo Oderinde, suggested that the Company should create awareness for its shareholders, both locally and international, in order to address the situation, adding that there should be more collaboration between the organisation and various shareholders' groups.

Nestle's audited results showed that turnover advanced by 32% to N68.317 billion in 2009, up from the N51.742 billion of 2008. Its profit before tax also grew by 16% to N13.783 billion, from N11.862 billion of the previous year. The food and beverage giant also posted a profit after tax of N9.783 biilion, representing an improvement by 17%, over the N8.331 billion of 2008. The Company had declared total dividend of N12.55 kobo per share out of a total absorbed dividend of N7 billion. 

Earlier, Osunkeye said that although Nestle is known for its long-term thinking, characterised by its continuous investment in its workers, operations, distributions, brands and innovation, it was its short-term action-oriented entrepreneurialism that yielded the impressive result.He added, “The performance demonstrated the significant benefit of having our people aligned behind a consistent, clear and cohesive strategy, combined with a high level of discipline in timely execution, as well as a focus on acceleration in operational performance.”The Chairman was bullish on the Central Bank of Nigeria's (CBN) proposed bailout package to the nation's comatose industrial sector, saying that it is expected to boost the operational capacities in manufacturing, small and medium scale enterprises as well as the power sector.

He explained, “ In terms of utilisation, the facility covers; lending, financing of projects, restructuring of existing portfolios to manufacturers and support for investment in industrial clusters power supply. We are optimistic that the private sector would rise to the occasion by accepting the challenge to expand the contribution of independent power projects to boost the current national capacity.“To further underline our long-term thinking and strong belief in the potential of our market and the resilience of the Nigerian economy, we embarked on huge and unprecedented investment in infrastructural upgrades of our existing production facilities in Agbara factory. Construction work is progressing steadily at our new factory complex located in Ogun State.

“The new factory will use high-technology equipment for the manufacture of MAGGi. The factory complex which occupies 36.3 hectares has great potential for future expansion.”Osunkeye noted that the nation's macro economic environment is bright, with promising outlook, especially with the progress that had been made in the Niger Delta.“We believe that in 2010, the Nigerian economy will operate on a positive and optimistic note as the Federal Government establishes special intervention funds to provide credit facilities for commercial farming and support necessary agro-processing linkages to sustain industry,” he added.

(Source:Business Hallmark)

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