Zenith Bank Plc had a 34 per cent rise in its assets in 2020, increasing the value from N6.347 trillion to N8.481 trillion in one year and thus making it Nigeria’s biggest bank by asset, according to its audited financial statements released on Tuesday.
The bank, may however lose the position to its closest rival, Access Bank, when its own financial statements are released.
Access Bank had four major expansion deals on the continent in 2020 including acquisitions in Kenya, Zambia, Cameroon and Mozambique, which should catapult its asset estimate well beyond the N7.925 trillion reported in September, and has lined up more of such transactions in eight other countries across Africa.
A 12.2 per cent increase in net interest income enabled Zenith Bank to scale up turnover from N662.251 billion to N696.450 billion.
But earnings were somewhat limited by a slump in net income on fees and commission from N100.106 billion to N79.332 billion, and the lender’s provision for loans likely to go bad, which soared from N24.032 billion to N39.534 billion.
That deterioration in credit quality by as much as 64.5 per cent in 12 months underscores the December projection of credit rating agency Fitch.
Nigerian banks should brace up for harder times this year, the New York-based firm warned, seeing the impaired loans in the system jump to between 10 to 12 per cent of the total credit asset by December 2021 as the pandemic weighs.