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Fanhua board approves share buyback program, dividend increase

Fanhua Inc.'s board approved a new share repurchase program that will launch March 13, allowing the company's management to buy back up to US$200 million of its American depositary shares.

The shares may be repurchased until Dec. 31 in any form the management sees fit. The proposed purchases will be made from time to time depending on market conditions.

Additionally, the board approved the management's proposal to raise Fanhua's annual aggregate dividend by 20% to US$1.20 per American depositary share, or 6 cents per ordinary share, in 2019 from US$1 per American depositary share in 2018. In each of the next four quarters, 3 cents per depositary share, or 1.5 cents per ordinary share, will be paid.

Fanhua also reported net income attributable to shareholders of 112.6 million Chinese yuan, compared with 126.9 million yuan in the prior-year quarter. Net income per American depositary share was 1.99 yuan in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared with 1.98 yuan in the year-ago period.

Net income attributable to shareholders for 2018 was 609.9 million yuan, compared with 449.2 million yuan in 2017. Net income per American depositary share was 9.83 yuan for 2018, compared with 7.29 yuan for 2017.

As of March 11, US$1 is equivalent to 6.73 Chinese yuan.