The Board of Directors of ACE Limited (NYSE: ACE) announced today that it will recommend to shareholders a 24% increase in the company’s quarterly dollar-denominated dividend, from $0.51 per share to $0.63 per share, commencing with the quarterly dividend payments in January and March 2014. The proposal requires shareholder approval and the company will file a proxy statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission that will be mailed to shareholders of record as of December 5, 2013.
The board also announced authorization of a share repurchase program up to $2 billion of the company’s common stock through December 31, 2014, to replace the current authorization, which has $228 million remaining through December 31, 2013. The company is targeting up to $1.5 billion of share repurchases between now and the end of 2014, to be made from time to time depending on market conditions as well as the company’s view of risks and opportunities.
“We are pleased to propose a substantial dividend increase while also returning capital to shareholders through share repurchases,” said Evan G. Greenberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ACE Limited. “ACE has a history of growth, both organically and through acquisitions. The actions we have announced today do not represent any change in our strategy or our view of ACE’s global opportunities for growth. Rather, they are recognition of our strong balance sheet and earnings generation power. Following these actions, we retain considerable capital flexibility for risk and growth opportunities, which we will continue to pursue to enhance our strategic position and improve our global operations.”
“We are targeting a dividend payout in the 30% range of our expected operating earnings, which we believe is appropriate for a growth company,” said Philip V. Bancroft, Chief Financial Officer, ACE Limited. “This action is a one-time increase that resets the level of our annual dividend. We reassess our dividend each year in February and intend to continue our longstanding practice of steady dividend increases.”
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