UBS Group (NYSE:UBS) will split its annual divided for 2020 into two payouts, in compliance with a request from FINMA, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority.
The Zurich-based bank had previously approved a $0.73 dividend. However, FINMA asked that banks under its jurisdiction reconsider their dividend plans as a precautionary measure to deal with the uncertainties related to the coronavirus crisis.
UBS said today that it would pay out half the dividend, $0.365, on May 7, followed by a special dividend reserve of $0.365 in November. Shareholders will vote on the May dividend payment at the April 29 annual meeting. The second payment will be voted on by shareholders at special meeting on Nov. 19 after UBS' third-quarter earnings report.
"Our financial strength well above regulatory requirements and prudent risk management allow us to deliver on our current capital returns policy. Nevertheless, at FINMA's request, we have adjusted the 2019 dividend payout proposal given the high and unprecedented uncertainty," said Axel Weber, board chairman at UBS.
In March, the European Central Bank requested that banks in its jurisdiction suspend their dividends until at least October over concerns about liquidity. However, UBS, as well as Credit Suisse, another major Swiss bank, followed FINMA's request on March 25 to "consider carefully the level of upcoming dividend distributions."
UBS expects to report $1.5 billion of net profit in the first quarter on April 28.
"The first quarter of 2020 once again showed our business model's ability to perform well under a variety of market conditions. We have been supporting our clients with lending and advice, helping them to navigate in this very difficult environment," said Sergio Ermotti, group CEO at UBS.
The stock price was up about 4% around midday on Thursday and is down 20% on the year.