The Chairman, Board of Directors of Guaranty Trust Banks (GTB), Dr. Emerson George Taylor-Lewis has tagged the bank as an ‘investors delight’ after acknowledging its annual 2015 profit at Le 46.8 billion.

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Awoko reports that He made this pronouncement at the bank’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), which was held yesterday at the Bintumani Hotel.

Highlighting the bank’s performance in 2015, he explained that “the bank has increased its branch network to 14 with the opening of 2 branches at Lunsar and Kissy Road and also has grown from 286 in 2014 to 314 in 2015.”

He also added that the bank has over 100% growth in dividend pay out from 160 shares to Le 350 shares.

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He further noted that the bank paid “a dividend of Le 588.81 per shares from the balance of the retained earnings. This will
result in a dividend pay-out of Le18bn compared to 10.7bn with 350 shares paid as dividend in 2014.”
This, he said, “represents 55% of distributable earnings and 45% of earnings in 2015.”

Speaking about the operating environment in 2015, the Chairman explained that “the operating environment witnessed in 2015 was very similar to that of 2014,” adding that it was very challenging, not only for the banking industry but also for both the private and public sectors of the economy.

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“The country was still struck by the crippling effect of the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak with the consequent loss of precious lives and socio-economic dislocations,” also explaining that at the end of 2015 the virus was brought under control, though “there was massive drop in donor funds which had replaced the United States Dollar (USD) source that was sustaining the commercial industry. The donor funds substituted for the loss of foreign exchange with the folding up of key mining companies.”

Dr. Taylor Lewis further acknowledged that the end of 2015 also saw the taking over of African Minerals by world-class steel giant Shandong steel.

Additionally maintaining that the tight measures put in place to contain the ebola virus was loosened and one international airline company SN Brussels resumed flights to Sierra Leone.

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“December 15th also saw the lifting of the health embargo on Sierra Leone by the British Government and the health check and scanning of passengers flying from Sierra Leone cancelled,” he said.

However, the Chairman pointed out that the Leone continues to depreciate significantly against major international currencies as a result of a supply gap, noting that a Dollar went from the Le5, 200 in January 2015 to Le 5,900.

Dr. Taylor-Lewis also pointed out that Treasury Bills rate was stable during 2015 but started to rise in the fourth quarter of the year.