Nigeria’s biggest beer maker scaled up the remuneration of its top management by at least 25.2 per cent last year as the COVID-19 pandemic battered businesses and slashed its profit by half, but approved the lowest return in at least 15 years for its shareholders.
In a year its directors probably worked less by reason of lockdown curbs and other restrictions, the Nigerian Breweries prioritised rewarding its management at the expense of cutting cost, a analysis of its audited financial statements show.
The firm’s board raised the directors’ emoluments to N702.537 million from the N561.245 million it paid in 2019, the statements show.
That is besides the cost of the chairman’s office and other reimbursable expenses that came to N17.7 million in 2020, investigation finds.
The managing director, being the highest paid director, took more than half of the N702.5 million paid to all the directors last year. That means MD’s emolument grew by N108.8 million or 40.2 per cent in a year the pandemic forced several CEOs to accept pay cut.
The spending came at a cost to retained earnings since Nigerian Breweries would use more than its entire profit for 2020 to pay dividend, meaning it will dip into its reserve of past excess profit to fund the payout.
Dividend payment for 2020 stood at N7.5 billion, outweighing a profit for the year of N7.4 billion. Profit for the previous year was N16.1billion.
Lowest Dividend in Years
Lifting the pay of its top hierarchy happened as Nigerian Breweries announced a cut in its dividend payout by N4.6 billion.
The brewer paid its shareholders the lowest dividend in 15 years or more at N0.94 per share (N7.5 billion in total) compared to the N1.51 per share (N12.075 billion) declared for the previous year, according to investigation.
The management of the firm also raised employees’ benefits from N13.4 billion to N16.7 billion.
Shares in Nigeria Breweries closed in Lagos on Thursday at N48.50 per unit, recording no change.
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