Tesco shareholders back 5 bln pound special dividend

LONDON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Shareholders in Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, on Thursday approved the payment of a 5 billion pound ($6.9 billion) special dividend following last year’s disposal of its Asian business.

The 50.93 pence per share payment, which equates to just over 21% of Tesco’s market capitalisation, was voted through at a general meeting of investors, held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tesco completed the $10.6 billion sale of its businesses in Thailand and Malaysia to Dhanin Chearavanont’s CP Group in December.

Shareholders also backed a 15-for-19 consolidation of Tesco’s shares, which is designed so that, as far as possible, the company can maintain its current share price.

In addition to paying the special dividend, Tesco used 2.5 billion pounds of the disposal proceeds to bolster its pension fund.

Shares in Tesco were down 1% at 244.2 pence, valuing the business at about 24 billion pounds. ($1 = 0.7233 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)