Zemen Bank has carved a formidable presence in the financial landscape, managing to cross the five billion Birr paid-up capital threshold put forth by the central bank. Shareholders gathered for the annual general assembly last week were pleased to learn their Bank has netted a 1.8 billion Br profit and earned over half a billion dollars in foreign currency dealings. The Bank's Earnings Per Share (EPS) was 430 Br, with a 5.4pc decline from the previous year. Loans and advances stood at 31.4 billion Br and a 37.1 billion Br deposit was mobilised. Total income increased by 39.7pc to 5.74 billion Br while 23 new branches were opened. Board Chairman Ermias Eshetu revealed that the Bank would expand its recently inaugurated headquarters in the financial district of the capital with a 2,264sqm plot. Zemen has been implementing a five-year strategic plan developed with the support of PWC Kenya. During the meeting at the Millennium Hall Ermias indicated the Bank's preparedness to compete in the pending liberalisation of the financial sector with the entry of foreign banks. Shareholders commented on the recent wave of dividend taxes demanded of financial institutions, while others enquired about documents on payments made and possible share offerings in the looming securities exchange.