By Mc Donald Chapalapata, a Contributor
Press Corporation plc Friday held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) where it declared a total dividend of K3.7 billion to its shareholders in respect to profits for the year ending 31 December 2020.
Addressing the meeting which was earlier planned to be hybrid in Lilongwe but was later changed to virtual because of the new Covid-19 measures, PCL Board Chairman Randson Mwadiwa said the conglomerate delivered a satisfactory performance despite a challenging operating environment in 2020 due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Turnover from operations at K219.5 billion in 2020 was level with prior year. The Group also achieved significant successes in controlling costs which are similar to last year’s despite the additional unplanned expenditures incurred in fighting the pandemic. Profit after tax for the year at K19.9 billion is 13% lower compared to K22.9 billion recorded in prior year,” said Mwadiwa.
The conglomerate then declared a final dividend of K3 billion representing K25 per share in respect of 2020 profits following the payment of an interim dividend amounting to K721.2 million representing K6 per share in October 2020 brining the total dividend for the year to K3.72 billion representing K31 per share.
Mwadiwa said the focus for most the PCL group companies was to ensure continued normal operations through the pandemic turbulence saying emphasis was placed on the activation of the various business continuity plans, preservation of cash, employee and customer safety, managing the new paradigm shift of working from home with the associated digital technology, and the strengthening of business relationships.
“Most Group companies have demonstrated remarkable flexibility and professionalism on how they adjusted their strategies to suit the new operating environment. With the availability of Covid-19 vaccines, we envisage improved economic prospects for 2021 and delivery of planned and significantly improved results,” said Mwadiwa.
He however noted that prevailing foreign exchange shortages are likely to persist and this together with the significant increase in public debt, poses a downside risk to the business environment.
Mwadiwa also informed the shareholders on the new investments that PCL and one of its subsidiaries National Bank of Malawi (NBM) plc have embarked on.
“In line with our strategic plan, the Group resuscitated its expansion drive programme. During the year, PCL extended its footprint in the financial services sector by partnering with Equity Investments Limited and Fidelity Limited to register a new company called LifeCo Holdings Limited, a life insurance, pensions and asset management business. The Group owns 49.5% of the business and the company started operations in January 2021.”
“National Bank of Malawi (NBM) plc, our subsidiary, also acquired a controlling stake in Akiba Bank, a potentially high growth bank in Tanzania as part of the overall Group growth strategy for the region,” said Mwadiwa.
He assured shareholders that drawing from the lessons of the challenges encountered in 2020, PCL has developed a capacity to absorb key anticipated risks within its risk appetite framework to ensure sustainable business growth.
“The Group will continue to emphasize on efficiency improvements, capital adequacy and restructuring measures in some segments that have been diagnosed to be undercapitalized,” said Mwadiwa.
PCL, listed on the Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE) is a highly diversified conglomerate with interests in different sectors of the Malawi economy including financial services, telecommunications, food and beverage, energy and consumer goods.