Shareholders disagree with SEC over unclaimed N 170 billion dividend

Darasimi Adebisi
Shareholders of listed companies in the country disagree with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over the use of the unclaimed 170 billion naira dividend in the Nigerian capital market.

They expressed their shock at the 170 billion naira reported by the Commission, saying the registrars on their side have worked with shareholders to raise awareness and reduce unclaimed dividends in the capital market.

THISDAY reliable found that unclaimed dividends in banking in 2020 increased as banks saw growth in dividends paid to shareholders.

Specifically, Zenith Bank Plc in fiscal year 2020 declared an unclaimed dividend of 28.04 billion naira against 25.6 billion naira, while the unclaimed dividend of Access Bank fell to 15.73. billion naira in 2020 against 15.88 billion naira declared in 2019.

FBN Holdings declared an unclaimed dividend of 9.62 billion naira in 2020 compared to 8.09 billion naira in 2019.
Other findings revealed that the unclaimed Dangote Cement dividend closed 2020 at N4 billion from N3.5 billion.
The Commission recently attributed the growth in unclaimed dividends to identity management and multiple investor subscriptions.

SEC CEO Lamido Yuguda said the figure had risen from 158 billion naira as of December 2019.
Unclaimed dividends in the capital market rose from over 2 billion Naira in 1999 to 120 billion Naira recorded in 2018.

But in a phone conversation with THISDAY over the weekend, the chairman of the Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Boniface Okezie, said the SEC’s declaration of unclaimed N 170 billion dividends was “only of speculation “.
According to him: “I don’t think the figure disclosed by the CEO of the SEC on unclaimed dividends is true. Did the SEC find the amount of unclaimed dividends in the capital market from the registrars and how did the Commission confirm that we have 170 billion unclaimed dividends?

“Since the SEC announced that the fund had been taken over by the government, many shareholders have come forward to claim their money from the registrars. The N170billion cited by the CEO of the SEC is unrealistic and ambiguous. They will have to sit down and do their homework. The SEC should contact the registrars and ask them how much they were paid and how much is left. “

He added: “The Commission is looking for an avenue to recover the unclaimed dividends in the NCM and it cannot work.”
Working with Okezie, National Coordinator Emeritus of the Association of Independent Shareholders of Nigeria (ISAN), Sunny Nwosu said: “The unclaimed dividend quoted in the newspapers is less than 170 billion naira. Unclaimed dividends in the capital market are shrinking everyday and genuine people are claiming their dividend. It can never again be what is quoted in the public.

He suggested that the unclaimed dividends in the NCM do not belong to the government but to the investing public.
Speaking on the factors responsible for unclaimed dividends, he said: “A lot of shareholders have other ways of surviving, I have received many inquiries asking if a certain company exists in the capital market. However, these companies continued to grow and pay dividends.

“The majority of shareholders have invested and they don’t know the reason for investing in certain dividend paying stocks.
He mentioned multiple accounts and deceased investors as key factors contributing to unclaimed.
He said: “A lot of shareholders have invested in the stock market and when they die their children might not know how to expect few of them to be informed.

“The lengthy process of family members demanding for their deceased unclaimed dividend is another discouraging factor. Some people have also laundered money stolen from the capital market and the fear of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) contributed to the unclaimed dividends.

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