ZURICH, Nov 19 (Reuters) - UBS shareholders on Thursday approved payment of the second half of its 2019 dividend, making it the first major European bank to pay a full dividend for the year despite turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
UBS, along with rival Swiss bank Credit Suisse, in April decided to postpone payment of part of its 2019 dividend after mounting pressure from authorities over lenders’ payouts during the coronavirus pandemic.
Banks across Britain and the euro zone were halted from paying 2019 dividends during the peak of economic uncertainties in March and April, while Swiss financial market supervisor FINMA took a softer approach, warning banks not to pay out dividends in order to conserve capital without banning them outright.
Major Swiss banks have since weathered the pandemic’s economic fallout with strong capital positions.
Some 99.49% of the bank’s shareholders on Thursday approved a special dividend of $0.365 per share in a virtual extraordinary general meeting, matching the initial payment made in May.
Credit Suisse will hold its extraordinary general meeting on Nov. 27 to request approval for the second tranche of its 2019 dividend payment.
UBS has set aside some $2.5 billion to return to shareholders next year. At FINMA’s behest, it is rebalancing the amount of payouts earmarked for buybacks to favour these over dividends, with former CEO Sergio Ermotti saying the approach allowed for greater flexibility amid economic uncertainty. (Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi)