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UPDATE 1-Santander to seek shareholder approval for cash dividend

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MADRID, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Santander on Monday called a general shareholders’ meeting on October 27 to approve a 0.10 euros per share cash dividend to be paid in 2021, pending a green light from the European Central Bank.

Santander, the euro zone’s third-biggest bank by market value, had in July proposed a scrip dividend, payable in new shares, equivalent to 10 cents per share for 2019.

This followed the ECB’s recommendation that euro zone banks should not pay cash dividends until the end of 2020 to help them to cope with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the ECB will in December revisit its recommendation for euro zone banks not to pay dividends and may move to a more flexible, case-by-case approach.

The total payment corresponding to 2019 would be equivalent to 0.20 euros per share, Santander said on Monday.

In April, following the ECB’s initial recommendation that European banks should refrain from paying dividends against 2019 and 2020 results, Santander decided to cancel payment of the 2019 final dividend and suspend the dividend policy for 2020.

On July 29, Santander had announced its intention to apply a 100% cash dividend policy, subject to regulatory approvals and improvement in market conditions.

On Monday, the bank said its dividend policy was also conditional upon the group’s core capital tier-1 ratio remaining within or above its target range of 11-12% after distribution, and the total amount to be paid not exceeding 50% of the bank’s 2020 consolidated underlying profit.

At the end of June, Santander’s core tier-1 capital ratio rose to 11.46% from 11.33% three months earlier with the full implementation of new accounting standards.

The bank also said its board had decided to relocate the October shareholders meeting from Santander in northern Spain to Boadilla del Monte on the outskirts of Madrid to reduce the need for travel and to safeguard those organising and attending the event. (Reporting by Jesús Aguado, Editing by Inti Landauro and Jane Merriman)

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