Inside the venue of the 52nd Annual General Meeting of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc in Abuja recently, the excitement was pervasive and palpable. Dr Ernest Azudialu Obiejesi, chairman of Julius Berger International, beamed and buoyed in pride as the construction behemoth he superintends its international operations, once again, defied the headwinds of the 2021 financial year to meet its targets. His joy is understandable.
For the first time in five years, the foremost engineering construction company paid out its highest dividend to shareholders. Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, Chairman of the Board of Julius Berger Nigeria PLC, said that although the company had challenges in the 2021 financial year, it excelled and overcame the challenges by dint of hard work and unflinching commitment to success by the management and staff.
While presenting the Consolidated Financial Statements of the year under review, Sunmonu said that Julius Berger Nigeria Plc performed positively despite the numerous macro-economic hiccups which affected businesses during the year. He added that the company achieved exceptional financial performance, meeting targets for both revenue and cash flow. “One for those challenges, of course, is COVID-19, which remains ever present in our personal and professional lives – with prolonged consequences. Unfortunately, we are unable to put this virus behind us just yet,” he said.
The chairman declared that while 2021 was certainly a challenging year, “It was also a dynamic and industrious year. Within our core construction business, we made meaningful progress across our portfolio of private and public projects.” He listed the projects to include the International Worship Centre, Uyo; the Office of the National Security Adviser in Abuja, and the Bodo-Bonny Road as well as infrastructure projects in Lagos and Rivers States, where Sunmonu added that the company supported the state governments “to achieve a remarkable infrastructure transformation within the year.”
Underscoring the shining example of trust the federal government placed on Julius Berger, the chairman harped on the priority projects of the government being financed via the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, saying that the company forged ahead with all of them including the Second River Niger Bridge and the Abuja-Kano Road “with our values, standards and capacities remaining core to our competitive edge.”
He stated that Julius Berger Nigeria Plc closed for the year under review “with a Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate of 0.19, equivalent to our 2020 results,” and that the various subsidiaries of the group also made reasonable progress in 2021.
Sunmonu promised that in 2022, “We will continue to work hard, remain resilient and champion progress in regard to the potentials ahead of us. We do not underestimate the effort or the endeavour it will take to achieve our vision, but we also do not underestimate our collective diligence and determination.”
In his remarks to shareholders at the AGM, the Managing Director, Engr. Dr Lars Richter disclosed that the company stood strong in the year under review as the shareholders approved a N2.50k per share dividends. He said that the three pillars of Julius Berger’s business strategy – the core business, group subsidiaries and diversification – have remained central to all operations even as he shared an update on the company’s sustainability and inclusivity efforts, as well as on the company’s outlook for 2022 and beyond.
Richter declared, “Julius Berger continues to stand strong, our values are firmly in place and our reputation for reliable and quality delivery remains unmatched…. And within our core business we continue to realize meaningful progress across our portfolio of projects as a foundation for our continued success and growth.”
On the business trajectory of the company, Richter said Julius Berger continues to acquire new projects for major clients such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Lagos and Port Harcourt State, the Federal Ministry of Works. Dr Richter also listed some successfully commissioned major projects to include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation office, several flyovers and civil infrastructural works in Port Harcourt; and the Rehabilitated Control Towers at Tincan Island and the Lagos Port Complex.