British insurer Admiral pulls special dividend

LONDON, April 27 (Reuters) - British insurer Admiral has suspended plans to pay a special dividend of 20.7 pence per ordinary share, although it will continue to pay its planned normal dividend of 56.3 pence, it said on Monday.

Admiral will review its position on the special dividend alongside its half-year results, it said in a statement, and said it planned to pay this part of its final dividend later in 2020 “unless there is a significant deterioration in the company’s financial position, trading or outlook”.

Admiral said none of its staff were being furloughed and chief executive David Stevens and his wife would donate to their charitable foundation the normal dividend payable to them.

“We find ourselves in extraordinary circumstances, and it has been a very difficult decision to suspend the special dividend as we are aware of the importance and impact to our shareholders and staff,” Stevens said.

“However, the board and I believe that this is the prudent and right thing to do at this time.”

Insurers are under pressure from regulators to curtail dividends and bonuses in order to shore up their capital positions, which have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Motor insurers such as Admiral are also under pressure from lawmakers to give money back to policyholders, with car use down dramatically due to the UK government lockdown.

Admiral last week said it would return 110 million pounds ($136.92 million) to car and van policyholders, a 25 pound refund for each policyholder. ($1 = 0.8034 pounds) (Reporting by Carolyn Cohn Editing by Rachel Armstrong)