Listed companies to hand out huge bonus

By Ding Qi

Although the economic slowdown trimmed profits of domestic listed companies last year, quite a few still propose lucrative dividend packages which may total 238.53 billion yuan ($34.92 billion), according to a report issued Monday from China Securities Journal.

In annual reports of some 1,600 companies listed in the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, 862 proposed cash or share dividend plans, the newspaper said. Total cash dividends are expected to reach 238.53 billion yuan, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all profits of main-board-listed companies.

Salt Lake Potash Co Ltd, a resource company in northwest Qinghai province, was the most generous company in both markets with a dividend of 1.283 billion yuan or 1.672 yuan per share before tax. The payout accounts for 94.06 percent of its 2008 profit.

Notably, 211 of 273 companies listed in the Shenzhen-based SME board plan to reward shareholders with 7.767 billion yuan in dividends, accounting for 31.4 percent of the total profit of the year. Among them, 17 companies each were ready to hand out more than 100 million yuan, while only eight were willing to do so in 2007.

However, earlier statistics from China Securities Journal showed net profits of domestic listed companies fell 17 percent from a year earlier to 820.82 billion yuan. Nearly 18.5 percent of the companies reported losses in 2008.

Huang Junjie, an analyst from China Jianyin Investment Securities, told that the rising refinancing threshold was an important factor behind listed companies' generosity.

In an effort to encourage companies' dividend payouts and boost long-term investment, China's securities regulator issued a new regulation last October, pegging refinancing approval with their dividend policies.

"The listed firms, if applying for refinancing, must pay dividends in cash totaling no less than 30 percent of its distributed profits over the previous three years," according to the regulation.

"In order to raise additional funds or conduct other capital moves in the market, companies have to stick to the rules and keep a sound dividend paying record," Huang said. "In addition, a generous dividend policy helps to boost corporate image and maintain investor relationships."

There are also 480 listed companies which managed to gain last year, but are not ready to share the profits with their shareholders. Dividend payment plans are to be implemented upon the annual shareholders meetings' approval.

Source: China Daily

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