BoN will assess banks’ dividends

09 April 2020 | Banking

The BoN undertakes to ... take the necessary steps to maintain financial stability in the country. – Kazembire Zemburuka, Deputy communications director: BoN

Jo-Maré Duddy – The Bank of Namibia (BoN) will continue to assess dividends payments of local commercial banks, the central bank said yesterday.

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) on Monday said it was advising banks not to distribute dividends. The SARB’s Prudential Authority said the high probability of the impact of Covid-19 will result in heightened stress in the banking system in South Africa.

Responding to the SARB’s move, the BoN’s deputy director of corporate communications, Kazembire Zemburuka, told Market Watch the declaration or payment of dividends by local banking institutions by law is subject to approval by the central bank.

“Be it in good or bad times,” Zemburuka added.

“In the process of determining whether a banking institution qualifies to declare or pay the said dividends, the Bank of Namibia conducts an assessment to determine whether such a banking institution has adequate capital as required by section 28 of the [Banking Institutions] Act, and whether it has made profits in that particular year, he said.

Paydays

FirstRand Namibia’s interim cash dividend of 104c per ordinary share for the six months ended 31 December 2019 is payable on 17 April.

SBN Holdings has recommended a dividend of 27c per fully paid share for the year ended 31 December 2019 and the payment date is 8 May.

Capricorn Investment Group declared a dividend of 30c per ordinary share for the half-year ended 31 December 2019 and the payment date was scheduled for 27 March.

The Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority have also asked banks to skip dividends as the coronavirus and efforts to stem its spread deliver severe shocks to economies around the world.

Banks pay dividends as a means of rewarding shareholders and disposing of excess profits, and scrapping them would mean freeing up capital that banks can instead lend out.

Zemburuka said the BoN “undertakes to monitor the ongoing fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic and take the necessary steps to maintain financial stability in the country”. – Additional reporting by Nampa/Reuters

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