Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques ruled out special dividends before the miner releases its half-year results in August, hosing down expectations of an immediate round of shareholder returns, The Australian Financial Review reported March 21.
According to the report, the mining giant's low debt levels led the market to expect that proceeds from its recent divestments would spill over into shareholder returns, particularly with a recent US$1.7 billion asset sale deal with Glencore PLC.
Rio Tinto, instead, recently announced plans to use excess liquidity to cut gross debt by about US$2.25 billion. The company issued redemption notices for about US$1.4 billion of its 2021 and 2022 U.S. dollar-denominated notes and launched a cash tender offer to buy back up to US$850 million of its euro-denominated notes due 2020 and 2024.
In 2017, Rio Tinto paid a record full-year ordinary dividend of US$5.2 billion, or US$2.90 per share, including a final dividend of US$3.2 billion, or US$1.80 per share.