On October 24, 2012, Lazard declared a quarterly dividend of $0.20 per share on its outstanding Class A common stock.
On October 24, 2012, Lazard’s Board of Directors authorized an additional share repurchase of up to $200 million, which expires December 31, 2014, and brings the share repurchase authorization as of October 24, 2012 to $217 million.
Lazard’s financial position remains strong and low risk with approximately $833 million in cash and cash equivalents at September 30, 2012, the majority of which is invested in U.S. Government and agency money market funds. As of September 30, 2012, total stockholders’ equity related to Lazard’s interests is $714 million.
COST SAVING INITIATIVES
In Lazard’s Shareholder Letter released in April this year, the firm set financial targets, including an operating margin (based on GAAP and awarded compensation) of at least 25% in 2014 at current activity levels. We stated that to achieve this goal we would take measures to reduce the firm’s expense base, and that these measures would result in implementation expenses.
Lazard’s senior leadership has taken a collective view of the firm’s strategy that includes investments for long-term growth, as well as legacy costs that can be eliminated. Cost saving initiatives will address: streamlining corporate structure and consolidating support functions; realigning the firm’s investments into areas with potential for the greatest long-term return; and creating greater flexibility to retain and attract the best people and invest in new growth areas. We expect these initiatives to result in improved profitability with minimal impact on Lazard’s revenue growth.
Our objective is for the majority of these initiatives to be completed during the fourth quarter of 2012, and to result in approximately $125 million in annual savings from our existing cost base. We anticipate at least two-thirds of these savings will be realized in 2013, with the full impact realized in 2014. Approximately $85 million relates to compensation expenses associated with reduced staffing, and approximately $40 million to non-compensation expense. Associated implementation expenses are estimated to range between $110 million and $130 million and to be primarily compensation-related. A significant majority of these expenses should occur in the fourth quarter of 2012 and the remainder in the first half of 2013. Approximately 75% of the implementation expenses are expected to be paid in cash.