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Plus500 to buy back shares despite 80% drop in H1 profit

Shares in Israel-based online trading platform Plus500 Ltd. jumped after the London-listed company announced a new share buyback program despite an 80% drop in net profit for the first half.

Plus500's shares were up nearly 19% as of 2:04 p.m. London time on Aug. 13.

Plus500 said its board has approved a proposed program to buy back up to $50 million of the company's shares and that it has appointed Credit Suisse Securities (Europe) Ltd. to manage the buyback, which will run until the end of March 2020 or, if earlier, the date of the announcement of Plus500's preliminary results for the 2019 financial year.

Plus500 reported unaudited net profit attributable to equity holders of the company of $51.6 million for the first half, down from $261.7 million in the same period in 2018. New customers increased year over year to 47,540 from 40,089.

The group said its performance in the period was "satisfactory" and that it remains on track to meet current expectations for 2019, noting that the first quarter was marked by very low levels of volatility in the financial markets.

Plus500 announced an interim dividend of 27.34 cents, down from $1.38 a year ago. The dividend's record date was set at Aug. 30 and the amount will be paid to shareholders Nov. 28.

The payout is in line with the company's policy to return 60% of net profits to shareholders, at least half of which will be distributed through dividends, with the remaining amount to be returned through share buybacks.

Plus500 noted that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission has received product intervention powers similar to those of European regulators that will allow it to more directly address abuses in the sales and marketing of complex financial products, and could introduce certain restrictions on such products.

In February, Plus500 warned that it expects revenue and profit for 2019 to be materially lower than current market expectations, mainly due to regulatory restrictions on its European business.