San­tander seeks to win over in­vestors with div­i­dend rise

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Spain's big­gest bank Banco San­tander an­nounced a slight in­crease in this year's div­i­dend pol­icy on Fri­day in a bid to win back mi­nor­ity share­holder con­fi­dence af­ter a more than 60 per­cent cut in the pay­out in 2015.

Chair­woman Ana Botin told a share­hold­ers meet­ing in the north­ern Span­ish port of San­tander, where the bank was founded, the len­der would pay a div­i­dend of 0.21 euros ($0.24) per share against 2016 earn­ings, a 5 per­cent rise from 2015.

In Jan­uary 2015, soon af­ter tak­ing over at the bank from her late father, Ana Botin slashed div­i­dends to 0.20 euros per share from 0.60 euros, with three out of four pay­ments to be made in cash, as part of a plan to boost cap­i­tal.

The sweet­ener was not enough for some share­hold­ers who at­tacked the bank's div­i­dend pol­icy and its re­cent share per­for­mance at the meet­ing. "We have suf­fered a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in div­i­dend pay­ments and have also wit­nessed a huge loss of con­fi­dence in the share per­for­mance," said Jose Luis Gon­za­lez, a mi­nor­ity share­holder at the event.

San­tander's shares have fallen over 11 per­cent in the last three months, driven partly by the slow­down in Brazil, which ac­counts for 19 per­cent of its earn­ings.

The bank said it would pay three div­i­dends in cash and one in shares or cash, known as a scrip div­i­dend, against this year's earn­ings.

San­tander will pay 30 to 40 per­cent of its re­cur­ring prof­its in cash div­i­dends, com­pared with 20 per­cent pre­vi­ously.

While Botin did not rule out pur­chases in key mar­kets, she said the bank, which blazed a trail of for­eign deals be­fore the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, would fo­cus on ex­pand­ing its ex­ist­ing busi­ness. "Our aim is to grow mar­ket share and to grow prof­itabil­ity," Botin told share­hold­ers.

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