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Sampo putting check on dividend increases

Finland-based Sampo Oyj is no longer placing an emphasis on annually increasing its nominal dividend per share.

"In the present operating environment, with government bond yields expected to remain negative for some time to come, Sampo management no longer thinks the company's and its shareholders' interests are best served by an increase in the dividend," President and Group CEO Kari Stadigh said in a statement.

Stadigh added that the goal now is to maintain a "sustainable and attractive dividend." Sampo's current dividend policy is to pay out at least 50% of its net profit as dividends. The CEO said the payout ratio has, on average, been approximately 80% over the last five years.

For 2019, a dividend of €2.10 to €2.30 per share will be proposed to the board. This does not include the extra dividend paid in the form of Nordea shares in August, Stadigh noted.

The board will review the dividend policy in early February 2020. The change in the dividend policy has no implications for Sampo Group's outlook for 2019.