Last Updated on Thursday, 20 May, 2021 at 2:40 pm by Andre Camilleri
Bank of Valletta held its 47th Annual General Meeting on Thursday 20 May 2021. For the second year running, the AGM was convened remotely in line with current Health Authority recommendations.
Addressing the shareholders, BOV Chairman Dr Gordon Cordina remarked that the COVID-19 event was prolonged beyond original expectations. ‘The Bank stands proud of the fulfilment of its commitments to continue to service its clients and the communities in which we operate during these trying times. We sensibly prioritised the health and well-being of our staff and customers while innovating to continue to offer the full range of the Bank’s products and services.’
‘Going forward, the Bank will continue to enhance its digital offering, providing a cheaper, safer and faster solution to its customers while decreasing the level of cross-subsidisation of its services and introduce a cost structure which reflects the underlying costs of providing particular services’ continued Dr Cordina. ‘We will shortly be introducing a customer charter which will govern the introduction of Bank fees and charges in line with the Bank’s objectives and also oversee an extensive communication strategy to all stakeholders across the board.’
BOV CEO Rick Hunkin highlighted the Bank’s performance for 2020. The BOV Group’s reported profit before tax of €15.2 million stems from the Group’s operating profit of €100.7 following a €38.1 million adjustment in credit provisions predominantly attributed to COVID-19 and a further €39.8 million in impairment charges for long outstanding non-performing loans. The Bank invested a further €15.8 million in its Transformation Programme while €8.1 million were released from provisions following the settlement of the Swedish Pension Funds.
The Bank’s balance sheet continued to grow with total assets reaching €12.9 billion as at December 2020. Gross advances increased by €296 million (6.6%) and stood at a total of €4.7 billion while deposits grew by €642 million (6%). CET 1 ratio increased from 19.5% to 20.9%, and the total capital ratio improved from 23.1% to 24.5% as at end of December 2020.
‘The Deiulemar claim remains outstanding and continues to be significant. The Group is adamant that the claim is wholly without merit and will continue in its concerted efforts on all fronts to ensure a fair and independent hearing and deliver a fair outcome,’ said the BOV CEO. ‘In the meantime, the Bank is already receiving payments in US dollars through Western Union Business Solutions from two major US dollar clearers and will continue in its efforts to ensure multiple clearing channels for all currencies.’
‘With our de-risking programme almost at a business-as-usual stage, we are now placing more energy on the implementation of the BOV 2023, a strategy that is designed to make Bank of Valletta a more resilient and more profitable bank: better, simpler and faster,’ continued Mr Hunkin. ‘The strategy will focus on the transformation and digitalisation of the operating model, the rebalancing of the Balance Sheet and to offering superior value to customers.’
‘Finally, in view of the current scenario and in line with regulatory guidance, the Board has responsibly decided not to declare distribution of dividends for the year 2020. The road to resumption of steady and stable dividends depends on the resolution of the litigation case in Italy as well as the return to more healthy and sustained levels of profitability. We are confident that we will deliver on our Strategy and will be offering the best possible service and value to our shareholders,’ concluded the BOV CEO.
Three resolutions were put to the meeting and approved. The ordinary resolutions included approval of the Audited Financial Statements for financial year ended 31 December 2020 and the appointment and renumeration of the Bank’s Auditors. An ordinary advisory resolution, Special Business proposed the approval of the Directors` Remuneration Report.
The Board of Directors received six valid nominations for the appointment of Directors, two of which were subsequently withdrawn. In view that there are as many nominations as there are vacancies, and since all nominees were deemed by the Bank’s Nominations and Governance Committee to be fit and proper to act as Non- Executive Directors of the Bank, no election took place. All other incumbent Directors remained in office pursuant to the Bank’s Articles of Association.
Thus, with effect from 20 May 2021, the Board of Directors for Financial Year 2021 shall be composed of the following Directors:
Dr Gordon Cordina – Non-Executive Director and Chairman
Mr Stephen Agius – Non-Executive Director
Mr Kevin J. Borg – Non-Executive Director
Mr Miguel Borg – Executive Director
Dr Diane Bugeja – Non-Executive Director
Ms Elizabeth Camilleri – Non-Executive Director
Mr James Grech – Non-Executive Director
Mr Rick Hunkin – Executive Director
Mr Alfred Lupi – Non-Executive Director
Ms Anita Mangion – Non-Executive Director
Mr Alfred Mifsud – Non-Executive Director
Mr Antonio Piras – Non-Executive Director
Mr Godfrey Swain – Non-Executive Director
The appointment of Mr Kevin J. Borg, Ms Elizabeth Camilleri and Mr Godfrey Swain is subject to regulatory approval.