Tesco to checkout its half-year dividends

Tesco to checkout its half-year dividends

Tesco plc announced on Wednesday, 7 October 2020, that it will be paying out its interim dividend at 3.2p per share in line with its remuneration policy, which is a 20% increase from last year’s payment. The chief finance officer, Alan Stewart stated ‘As was the case in April, the board felt it was right to declare a dividend if the business performance merited it’.

This comes after the remuneration report was voted down at the 2020 AGM in June, which made no difference to departing CEO, Dave Lewis’ pay package of £6.42m. (For more information, see: Price tag on remuneration reports cause for shareholders opposition).

Although Tesco did not engage in the furlough scheme or any government backed loans, the pay-out has received criticism due to the FTSE 100 company being one of the largest beneficiaries of a year-long business rates holiday, worth an estimated £532m over the company’s financial year. A senior economist of the New Economics Foundation stated ‘For Tesco to accept this relief, and then be able to turn around and pass the benefit straight on to shareholders, shows that the system is not fit for purpose – public funds should not be captured as private profit’.

In March 2020, Tesco sold off its South-east Asian operations, branded as Asia’s largest corporate acquisition that year and the biggest in Thailand’s history. The deal is expected to bring in about £5bn to shareholders via a special dividend, and pay £2.5bn into its defined-benefit pension schemes to eliminate their deficits. A special dividend payment may be controversial, after the criticism Tesco has received for paying an interim dividend in the midst of a pandemic.

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