A critical component of delivering superior returns to our shareholders is consistent growth in our common dividends. This 8% increase represents the tenth consecutive annual dividend increase since we declared our first dividend following our initial public offering in 2003.Another important tool in capital management is the return of capital through share repurchases. Over the ten years since our IPO, AXIS Capital has repurchased approximately 78 million shares in open market or private transactions for a total of $2.6 billion. So far in 2013, we have already purchased 10.1 million shares at a total cost of $441 million, out of the $750 million authorization granted last December. We are pleased this new authorization will provide us with the flexibility to continue to return capital to shareholders into 2015.” AXIS Capital is a Bermuda-based global provider of specialty lines insurance and treaty reinsurance with shareholders’ equity at September 30, 2013 of $5.8 billion and locations in Bermuda, the United States, Europe, Singapore, Canada, Australia and Latin America. Its operating subsidiaries have been assigned a rating of “A+” (“Strong”) by Standard & Poor’s and “A+” (“Superior”) by A.M. Best. AXIS Capital and AXIS Specialty Finance LLC have been assigned senior unsecured debt ratings of A- (stable) by Standard & Poor’s and Baa1 (stable) by Moody’s Investors Service. For more information about AXIS Capital, visit our website at www.axiscapital.com.
AXIS Capital Holdings Limited ("AXIS Capital") (NYSE: AXS) today announced that the Company’s Board of Directors has authorized the repurchase up to $750 million of the Company’s common shares. The Board has authorized the Company to effect repurchases under this new plan in open market or privately negotiated transactions through December 31, 2015, depending on market conditions. This new repurchase authorization, effective January 1, 2014, will replace the existing authorization, which currently has approximately $308.9 million in remaining authorization available through December 31, 2013. The Company’s Board of Directors also declared a quarterly dividend of $0.27 per common share, which represents an increase of 8%. The common dividend will be payable on January 15, 2014 to the shareholders of record at the close of business on December 31, 2013. In addition, the Board declared a dividend of $1.875 per Series B Preferred Share, a dividend of $0.429688 per Series C Preferred Share and a dividend of $0.34375 per Series D Preferred Share. The Series B Preferred Share dividend is payable on March 3, 2014 to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 14, 2014. The Series C Preferred Share dividend is payable on January 15, 2014 to shareholders of record at the close of business on December 31, 2013. The Series D Preferred Share dividend is payable on March 3, 2014 to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 14, 2014. Albert Benchimol, President and Chief Executive Officer of AXIS Capital, said: “AXIS Capital is committed to intelligent capital management considering the interests of all of our stakeholders, including both clients and shareholders. With total capital in excess of $6.7 billion as at September 30, 2013, and increasingly efficient use of our capital, we believe we can effectively balance growth with return of capital to our shareholders, all the while maintaining our financial strength.