They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in Lagos that companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and other exchanges are insisting on the payment of dividends in foreign currencies.
The shareholders said that payment of dividends in foreign currencies and the companies’ insistence that Nigerian shareholders must open domiciliary accounts would increase the profile of unclaimed dividends in the market.
Alhaji Gbadebo Olatokunbo, founding member, Nigeria Shareholders Solidarity Association, said that companies were under obligation to pay dividends in Naira, whether foreign or cross-border.
Olatokunbo said that shareholders should not be compelled to open domiciliary accounts because of dividends, noting that, many of them would forfeit such dividends, thereby increasing unclaimed dividends.
“The Nigerian currency is the Naira and not the dollar and shareholders should not be forced to open foreign accounts for dividend payments,” he said.
Olatokunbo alleged that Seplat’s insistence on domiciliary accounts would not work, noting that the company should convert the dividends declared and pay to shareholders in naira.
Mr Boniface Okezie, President, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), said that companies listed on the NSE must ensure payment of dividends in the country’s currency.
Okezie said that shareholders must not be compelled to open domiciliary accounts for payment of dividends 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 also urged the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to look into the issue, in the interest and growth of the market.
Mr Bayo Adeleke, National Secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), said that companies such as Seplat and ETI, with cross-border listings pay dividends in hard currency.
Adeleke said that shareholders were aware of the development, before investing in the companies.
He said that local arrangements should be made to assist shareholders having issues with domiciliary accounts.
Mr Olaleye Williams, the Managing Director, GlobalView Investment Ltd, said that the development, no doubt, would enable Nigerian investors to earn their dividends in foreign exchange.
Williams also said that shareholders should be given an option of local or foreign currencies by the registrars.
“I wonder what would have been lost if investors are given options on how they want their dividends without necessarily increasing the cost of administration,” he added. (NAN)