Persimmon to accelerate 2015 pay out to shareholders

LONDON, April 18 Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:49am EDT

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LONDON, April 18 (Reuters) - British housebuilder Persimmon said it plans to pay out a dividend of 10 pence per share to shareholders in June next year, accelerating a payment originally scheduled for 2015.

Persimmon, Britain's biggest housebuilder by market value, said last year that it would return 1.9 billion pounds ($2.9 billion) of capital to shareholders over a nine and a half year period. It will pay out 227 million pounds this year and had scheduled the next payment for 2015.

"This intended payment will accelerate approximately 30 million pounds of the 287 million pounds, or 10 pence of the 95 pence per share, payment currently scheduled for 2015," the company said in a trading update on Thursday.

"This demonstrates the Board's continuing commitment to deliver significant value to shareholders over the long term on a sustainable basis."

Persimmon posted a 52 percent increase in pretax profit in 2012. It has beaten a stagnant property market by building homes in the more affluent south, where house prices have stayed strong and buying development land cheaply during the recession.

It received a further boost in March after the government proposed to shoulder the risk of billions of pounds in mortgages to help struggling home buyers purchase homes with small deposits.

The company said it had experienced a good start to the year and said that enquiry levels had risen to 30 percent ahead of the prior year, from 24 percent, following the government's announcement. Its current total forward sales are up 11 percent at 1.38 billion pounds compared to 2012.

Persimmon also said that its group managing director, Jeff Fairburn, would succeed its long-standing chief executive Mike Farley on Thursday as previously announced.

Persimmon shares, which have risen 73 percent over the past year, closed at 1106 pence on Wednesday valuing the company at 3.38 billion pounds.

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