3. Equity and dividends
As at 31 December 2016, Group equity totalled NOK 33.9 billion. An ordinary dividend of NOK 2.50 per share was paid out for the 2015 financial year. Over time, Orkla shareholders shall receive a competitive return on their investment through a combination of dividends and an increase in the share price.
Orkla has pursued a consistent shareholder and dividend policy for many years. On Orkla’s Capital Markets Day in September 2015, it was announced that Orkla aims to maintain an ordinary dividend at at least the current level.
The Board of Directors has proposed that a dividend of NOK 2.60 per share be paid for the 2016 financial year. The dividend will be paid out on 3 May 2017 to shareholders of record on the date of the Annual General Meeting. Authorisations empowering the Board of Directors to undertake share buybacks are limited to specific purposes and are granted for a period no longer than until the next general meeting. The General Meeting is given the opportunity to vote on every purpose covered by the authorisation.
At the Annual General Meeting in 2016, the Board of Directors was granted authorisation to buy back up to 100,000,000 Orkla shares so that the company can acquire and hold up to 10% of its share capital. The authorisation is limited to specific purposes, and applies until the Annual General Meeting in 2017. Shares acquired under this authorisation are to be cancelled or used in connection with employee incentive programmes, including the Group’s employee share purchase programme. Each purpose was discussed as a separate item of business at the Annual General Meeting. A similar authorisation has been granted each year since 1998. As at 31 December 2016, Orkla had not acquired any of its own shares under the current authorisation. As at 31 December 2016, Orkla held 1,213,135 treasury shares. Questions concerning increases in share capital must be submitted to the General Meeting for decision. The company’s transactions in its own shares are effected on the market at market price, in accordance with good stock exchange practice in Norway. There are otherwise no provisions in Orkla’s Articles of Association that regulate the buyback or issue of shares.