Airtel Africa To Pay N276bn Dividend Despite Posting N133bn Loss

Airtel Africa is to pay N276 billion as 2023 final dividend despite posting a net loss of $89m (N133bn) for the year ending March 31, 2024.

This was contained in the corporate notice with the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX), with the group announcing 3.57 US Cents per share for FY 2023/2024.

It also fixed 1,485.99/$ as the exchange rate for the 2023 final dividend.

The group, a leading pan-African provider of telecommunications and mobile money services, with a presence in 14 countries across Africa, had earlier paid an interim dividend of 2.38 US Cents per share at an exchange rate of N858.24/$ in December 2023.

The interim dividend payment amounted to N76.8bn.

Daily Trust reports that the payment of dividends by Airtel Africa was greeted with applause from shareholders coming at a time most companies in the telecommunication sector, foods and beverages, among others were not paying dividends.

Though MTN Group, the parent firm of MTN Nigeria Communication PLC, paid dividends to its shareholders, the Nigerian subsidiary did not declare any dividend during its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held recently.

Other companies in the foods and beverages also failed to declare dividends amidst grumbling from shareholders.

But Airtel Africa chose to be different with the declaration of dividend of 3.57 US Cents per share for FY 2023/2024.

At this exchange rate, Airtel’s final dividend in Naira is about N53.05 per share, representing a dividend yield of 2 percent.

The corporate filing also indicated that the final dividend is payable on 26 July 2024 to shareholders on the register as of close of business on 21 June 2024.

According to the company, shareholders that hold their shares on the London Stock Exchange may elect to receive their dividend payment in GB pounds or U.S. dollars.

The statement added, “The closing date for the dividend currency election to the Company’s Registrars Coronation Registrars Limited in Nigeria is 8 July 2024.

“Shareholders holding their shares on the NSE who do not indicate their currency of choice before 8 July 2024 will receive their dividends in Nigerian naira.”

Speaking with our correspondent, former secretary of Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Adeleke Adebayo, said, “It (dividend payment) is a function whether they have enough retained earnings. Companies are allowed to pay dividends from retained earnings, that is the past profit that the company has retained. So, if they have confidence that the company will do well and they would overcome the present challenges and they have enough reserve in retained earnings, you can always pay dividends out of retained earnings, it is allowed under the law. I think that is what they have paid.

“I think the major problem most of these companies are facing has to do with the forex transition but you have to also know that this is not Airtel Nigeria. This is Airtel Africa, their income and everything is not based only on Nigeria’s economy.”

-By Abdullateef Aliyu, Lagos

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