CBN tightens up rules on dividend payment by banks

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has tightened its rules in regard to the payment of dividend by banks and Discount Houses.

In a letter to banks dated January 31st 2018 but posted on its website yesterday, the regulator said the move was aimed at facilitating, “sufficient and adequate capital build up for banks in tandem with their risk appetite.”

Specifically, the apex bank stated that, henceforth: “Any Deposit Money Bank (DMB) or Discount House (DH) that does not meet the minimum Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) shall not be allowed to pay dividend. DMBs and DHs that have a Composite Risk Rating (CRR) of ‘High’ or a Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratio of above 10% shall not be allowed to pay dividend.”

Besides, it said : “DMBs and DHs that meet the minimum capital adequacy ratio but have a CRR of ‘Above Average’ or an NPL ratio of more than 5% but less than 10% shall have dividend payout ratio of not more than 30%”

It added : “DMBs and DHs that have capital adequacy ratios of at least 3% above the minimum requirement, CRR of “Low” and NPL ratio of more than 5% but less than 10%, shall have dividend pay-out ratio of not more than 75% of profit after tax.”

Stressing that all ratios shall be based on financial year averages, the CBN also instructed that no DMB or Discount House will be allowed to pay dividend out of reserves.

According to the banking watchdog, while: “ There will be no regulatory restriction on dividend pay-out for DMBs and DHs that meet the minimum capital adequacy ratio, have a CRR of ‘low’ or ‘moderate’ and an NPL ratio of not more than 5%,” it expects the Board of such institutions to, “recommend payouts based on effective risk assessment and economic realities.”
Besides, it said : “Banks shall submit their Board approved dividend payout policy to the CBN before the payment of dividend shall be permitted.”

The CBN noted that despite the circular it issued in October 2014, which detailed the advantages of banks retaining their earnings, it had observed : “Some institutions pay out a greater proportion of their profits, irrespective of their risk profile and the need to build resilience through adequate capital buffers.”