Seplat Petroleum Development Company at the weekend assured shareholders that its dividend payment must be compliant with the country’s existing laws and regulations.
This is contained in a statement in Lagos by the company’s General Counsel, Dr Mirian Kene Kachikwu.
The statement said that the company irrespective of its diverse shareholder base would pay dividends to diverse shareholders in compliance with the applicable Nigerian laws and regulations.
It said the company’s final dividend for the year ended Dec. 31, 2014 to be approved by the shareholders on June 2 would be paid in Naira as applicable to the Nigerian shareholders on June 10.
The statement said the company, listed on both Nigerian and London Stock Exchanges, would publish its annual report to be denominated in both naira and dollars.
“As a company listed on two exchanges in Lagos and London, we prepare our annual accounts in two currencies, the Nigerian Naira and the U.S. Dollar,’’ said the statement.
According to the statement, the accounts were the same as the Dollar denominated version, submitted to the London Stock Exchange, LSE, having used the ruling exchange rate of the Naira/Dollar to convert the accounts to Naira.
“The slight confusion must have arisen when we paid our interim dividend in November 2014. We had given relevant ‘Nigerian’ shareholders who have domiciliary accounts the option of receiving their dividends in dollars,’’ it said.
The company said that the act of magnanimity applauded by a number of shareholders also drew sharp criticism from others.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that the company was reacting to a NAN story on “shareholders decry payment of dividend in foreign currencies by cross border listed companies.’’
The shareholders recently told NAN in Lagos that companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, and other exchanges should not insist on the payment of dividend in foreign currencies.
They said that payment of dividend in foreign currencies and insistence on domiciliary accounts by Seplat would increase the spate of unclaimed dividend in the market.
Alhaji Gbadebo Olatokunbo, founding member, Nigeria Shareholders Solidarity Association, said that companies were under obligation to pay dividend in Naira whether foreign or cross border.
Olatokunbo said that shareholders should not be compelled to open domiciliary accounts because of dividend, noting that many of them would forfeit such dividends thereby increasing unclaimed dividend.
“Nigeria currency is naira and not dollar and shareholders should not be forced to open foreign account for dividend payment,’’ he said.
Olatokunbo alleged that Seplat’s insistence on domiciliary account would not work, noting that the company should convert the dividend declared and pay to shareholders in Naira.
President, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, PSAN, Mr. Boniface Okezie, said that companies listed on the NSE must ensure payment of dividend in the country’s currency.
Okezie said that shareholders must not be compelled to open domiciliary accounts for the payment of dividend for companies operating in Nigeria.
“Seplat as a company operating in Nigeria, owned by Nigerians or even if it is foreign-owned, must not dollarise our economy,’’ Okezie said.
He, however, called on the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, to look into the issue in the interest and growth of the market.

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