The Shareholders Association, Ibadan Zone, has urged companies in Nigeria to be decisive and cut operational costs to catalyze the business environment in the face of economic challenges.
The chairman of the association, Mr. Eric Akinduro, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Tuesday while speaking on the performance of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in recent time.
“Currently, I think the whole economy is somehow challenging, but what we are looking at, as investors now, is the final returns being declared by each company, which eventually would determine their dividends declaration.
“When we look at it, the events on the floor of the stock market; the activities are relatively okay, but the returns to the shareholders are very, very small.
“And we all know what is happening to the economy; that it is the economy that is really affecting the returns that we are getting.
“The NSE is okay, but the returns we are getting from it is not so good, but we don’t have options as shareholders,” he said.
Akinduro, however, tasked companies with cutting costs to ensure a robust bottom line that would make for good dividends for investors.
“But what I will implore our companies to do now is that we have a situation already on the ground and we need to take a decisive decision to challenge the environment.
“All that companies can do to challenge the present situation for them to be alive, they should do it.
“Enough is enough of flamboyant life, enough of increment in directors’ fees, enough of increment in administration and operation fees.
“These are the things that they should be looking at to cut cost so that at the end of the day, we can have a robust bottom line for the investors.
“If they can work within what we have to the maximum now, I think they will be okay. The economic reality now is not peculiar to Nigeria alone; it is all over the world, but we need to understand our environment and make a decision to control and to contain that environment that we are in,” he said.
On the issue of unclaimed dividends, Akinduro noted that though the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) was looking into this, it would have to do more.
“We need to feel their impact, particularly at the grassroots; if they say they want to reduce unclaimed dividends, what are the measures put in place to ensure that?
“SEC needs to review the activities of the registrars, as well as Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) and the staff; let them harmonize their activities so that the rate of unclaimed dividends can be reduced.
“Some of the shareholders now are still facing a lot of bottlenecks when it comes to signature and some other things to get their dividends paid.
“SEC should help look into this and see how they can harmonize things; shareholders that have signed form for the past 25 years and they are still expecting such signatures to be the same.
“Shareholders that bought shares from the secondary market and don’t have signatures, what are they doing to ensure that they get their dividends on time?” he asked.
According to Akinduro, shareholders have their impacts on the economy and this can only be so when their dividends are paid.