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Operator canvasses cheap funds for maritime sector

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Andrew Otike-Odibi


C and I Leasing Plc has stressed the need for government to provide a well-priced single digit long-term fund to support the maritime industry and boost profitability.

The Chief Executive Officer of the company, Andrew Otike-Odibi while speaking in an interview with The Guardian, at the end of the firm’s 30th yearly general meeting in Lagos on Tuesday, said the marine and fleet management aspect of the business was mostly impacted during the pandemic because the company could not deploy assets in the segment of its business during the lockdown period of 2020.

He said: “Typically, if you want to write off marine assets over a 20-year period and when you want to borrow money, you borrow for a maximum of five years. There is a mismatch but if the government can come together and put up a well-priced long term facility, taking into consideration, the kind of industry we play and not giving us pricing of 16 -17 per cent, it will go a long way in helping the industry.”

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He also bemoaned the negative impact of foreign exchange shortage on their operations, urging government to provide channels where operators that want to bring in spare parts for certain industries can be giving some level of preference.

Earlier, the company’s Chairman, Dr Samuel Maduka Onyishi assured shareholders that the company would continue to drive new solutions by leveraging technology to improve the efficiency of operations and business acquisitions.

Onyishi said the company was poised to cushioning the headwinds by continually consolidating past achievements and seeking opportunities to expand its operations and market frontiers.

To this effect, Onyishi said the group has identified expanding medical and sales process outsourcing services, digital offerings such as online training and after lease services to a broader client base as some of the opportunities arising from the COVID-19 fallout.

According to him, the company would also adopt a holistic cost optimisation strategy, which is key priority to the firm’s short-term plans.

He said the dip in oil prices and the economic effect of the pandemic in no small measure affected the profitability of many companies with leasing industry not excluded.

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A ripple effect of the enforced lockdown on the company’s performance last year was a 22 per cent decline in its gross earnings from N24.9 billion in 2019 to N19.4 billion in 2020.

The company’s Profit Before Tax also declined by 27 per cent to N490 million from N572.6 million achieved in the corresponding period in 2019.

At the meeting, shareholders of the company approved a total dividend of N88,457,250 translating to 5 kobo for every ordinary share of 50 kobo for the 2020 financial year.

Shareholders applauded the company for enhancing their returns on investment through dividend payout amid a harsh operating environment.

Specifically, a member of Noble Shareholders Solidarity Association, Ajie Robert Igwe commended the company on its strict adherence to corporate governance principles. He urged the company to recapitalise its retained earnings and consider issuing a bonus to shareholders in the current financial year.

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