24 April 2014News

Aspen increases dividend; Platinum increases share buyback

Aspen has increased its quarterly cash dividend on ordinary and certain perpetual preference shares, while Platinum Underwriters has ramped up its share repurchase programme.

Aspen has increased its quarterly cash dividend by 11.1 percent to $.020 a share for ordinary shares, with the dividend payable at the end of May. The board has also declared a $0.46 dividend per 7.401 percent perpetual preference share that will be payable at the start of July and a $.037 dividend per 5.95 percent perpetual preference share, also payable at the start of July.

It is unclear whether the dividends are an attempt to secure shareholder support at the critical time, with Aspen facing considerable pressure following hostile overtures from Endurance. The company is already seeking shareholder support for a poison pill provision and its dividend payment plan may form part of an effort to support its defensive ploy. Equally, it may well have been a planned dividend pay-out, with dividend payouts a regular feature of the Bermuda market.

Platinum Underwriters has meanwhile increased its share repurchase programme, to more than $250 million, more than doubling its existing authorisation. The move represents an increase of approximately $155 million from the approximately $95 million remaining in the programme through to April 22, 2014.

Platinum is pursuing repurchases through open market and privately negotiated transactions, the reinsurer said. Share repurchases have proved a popular option of late, as re/insurers have struggled to write well-priced business and have been encouraged to pursue share buy-backs in order to streamline their capital positions.

The Platinum board has also authorised a quarterly dividend of $0.08 per common share, which will be payable at the end of June.