Afriland Properties Plc has explained its conservative dividend payment policy as a deliberate strategy to drive growth and ensure better returns to shareholders.
At the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos, shareholders of Afriland Properties approved payment of N68.7 million as cash dividend for the business year ended December 31, 2020, representing a dividend per share of 5 kobo.
Chief Executive Officer, Afriland Properties Plc, Uzoamaka Oshogwe, said the company was ploughing back most of its funds to be able to generate more profits for its business and the shareholders.
She assured that Afriland will continue to explore more ways to ensure that its business remains profitable.
She pointed out that last year, the company started and completed the construction of some offices nationwide while significant progress was made on other non-proprietary projects.
“We have positioned your company to take advantage of government’s policy direction; optimise future rental income from our proprietary properties and to actively pursue an aggressive development of select properties for residential and commercial purposes, with a view to maximising shareholders wealth,” Oshogwe said.
She said the company will continue to explore the possibility of partnering with reputable organizations with a view to optimizing its property portfolio and thus delivering superior value to shareholders.
Chairman, Afriland Properties, Emmanuel Nnorom, said the real estate industry was affected negatively by the coronavirus pandemic as public and private properties such as offices, apartments, hotels, sports, and entertainment venues were singled out as potential spreading locations for the coronavirus.
He said the company commenced and completed several projects during the year such that by the end of the year it had more than 41 projects in different locations in the country and at various stages of completion.
“Our performance during the year was affected by the events in the larger economy, however, we will further strengthen our balance sheets and business model this year by tapping into the opportunities that will be created in the building and construction sector,” Nnorom said.
In the year under consideration, the company recorded revenue of N1.42 billion, representing a marginal decline of four per cent from N1.48 billion recorded in 2019. Profit before tax stood at N1 billion in 2020 as against the N1.3 billion in 2019. Total assets stood at N27.07 billion, representing an increase of nine per cent as against N24. 86 billion recorded in 2019.
A shareholder, Sir Sunny Nwosu, who spoke at the meeting, commended the management of the company for keeping up with activities despite the Covid-19 pandemic and its resultant effect on major businesses.
While advising the company to gear up efforts to increase dividends in the next financial year, Nwosu praised Afriland’s effort at increasing its retained earnings as well as its efforts at resuscitating the former Raymond House building into the iconic building now known as Afriland Towers, which according to him holds a pride of place in the Lagos business district.
Another shareholder, Bisi Bakare, commended the fact that the business kept busy during the peak of the pandemic, as it recorded the completion of several projects during the year under focus, which culminated in its declaration of a modest profit at the end of the financial year.