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Business News of Thursday, 2 March 2023


United Capital’s annual profit falls despite N27bn record revenue

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Financial and investment services group United Capital grew turnover by approximately half to N26.9 billion last year, its biggest revenue since its inception 21 years ago.

But a PREMIUM TIMES’ analysis of its financials showed that the milepost could not lift profit because of the exigency of meeting certain costs.

The holding company which divorced from United Bank for Africa in 2022 and now runs on its own, leaned on income from its flagship investment banking division to drive growth in its top line in a year where income from managed funds was especially strong.

Investment income sprang up by 55.3 per cent to N13.8 billion, while fees and commission income at N8.1 billion expanded by 31.9 per cent.

United Capital, whose offerings also include issuing house services, asset & wealth management, M&A, trusteeship and brokerage, owed the improvement in the latter to higher financial advisory fees as well as management fees & other commissions.

Profits took the most blow from the need to set aside as much N6.2 billion from revenue to cover loans granted by the institution, which stand only a slim chance of getting repaid.

That compares to the N453.5 million allocated to that purpose in the same period of 2021, its audited financial report issued on Wednesday shows.

United Capital runs a consumer finance unit UCPlus Advance Limited through which it lends to customers using a digital platform. The company told PREMIUM TIMES it is set to formally launch its digital banking subsidiary.

Profit before tax rose to N13.5 billion from N11.9 billion. Taxation soared by almost five times to N3.8 billion, hurting net profit which, at N9.7 billion, was 14.3 per cent weaker than the 2021 level.

“We remain upbeat about sustaining our performance in 2023 having kicked off the year in a robust financial position with close to N1 trillion funds under management,” said CEO Peter Ashade in another document providing performance highlights.

A note also issued Wednesday details the board’s plan to pay a dividend of N1.50 per share for the year, summing up to a N9 billion payout, the same amount it paid for 2021.

Shares in the company had fallen 3.9 per cent by the time trade closed in Lagos on Wednesday.