AstraZeneca unveils dividend hike ahead of CEO pay vote at AGM

By Thomson Reuters Apr 11, 2024 | 2:25 AM

(Reuters) -AstraZeneca said on Thursday it intends to increase annual dividend for 2024 by 7% to $3.10 per share, betting on strong performance and cash generation on the back of its blockbuster drugs and several recent acquisitions.

The announcement comes ahead of its annual general meeting later in the day, where investors are preparing to vote on a policy that could raise CEO Pascal Soriot’s pay package by 1.8 million pounds ($2.26 million) to a maximum of 18.9 million pounds in 2024.

Influential proxy advisers Glass Lewis and ISS have urged shareholders to vote against the company’s pay policy, according to reports.

“This uplift is in line with our progressive dividend policy, which remains unchanged, and reflects the continuing strength of AstraZeneca’s investment proposition for shareholders,” Chair Michel Demaré said in a statement.

AstraZeneca intends to maintain or increase the dividend each year as part of its progressive dividend policy.

London’s second-largest listed company by market value said the hike takes into account other capital allocation priorities as well as previously announced acquisitions and business development.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker has said it expects total revenue and core earnings per share (EPS) to increase by percentages in the low double-digits to low teens this year.

Shares in the FTSE 100 firm have fallen 8.5% in the last 12 months. They ticked up nearly 1% in early trading on Thursday.

($1 = 0.7971 pounds)

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Varun H K and Kevin Liffey)