Nothing less that N100 billion ($278 million) in dividends have been left unclaimed by shareholders in Nigeria, following the country’s market regulatory institution’s attempt in ensuring it does not occur.
This is no surprise as several shareholders are deceased with no follow-up to their dividends in companies. Also dividends paid to retail investors (majority owners of the dividends) are little that they choose not to walk away most often than not.
Though the country’s street numbering system and negligence from investors have not been helpful, Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken measures to curtail the foreseeable situation.
As part of measures to curb the growth of unclaimed dividend in the Nigerian capital market, the regulator had extended the deadline for a free e-dividend registration which began in 2015, till April 2018.
The extension has been underutilized by the country’s shareholders, though it provides the opportunity for commercial banks, the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) and registrars to address the need for a revenue sharing formula.
With listed companies’ decision to stop issuing physical dividend warrant for 2017 fiscal year, SEC revealed in 2017 its plan to establish an Unclaimed Dividends Trust Fund (UDTF) for dividends has exceeded the claim window of 6 months after declaration. However, the development was not that welcomed by wary investors.