Business

Laurentian Bank cuts dividend by 40%

Laurentian Bank slashed its dividend by 40 per cent on Friday, the first such move by a major Canadian lender in almost three decades.

Dividend slash is first for a major Canadian bank in almost 30 years

A sign sits outside the head offices of Laurentian Bank in Montreal, March 19, 2013. The Bank reported its financial results at their annual general meeting on Tuesday. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

Laurentian Bank slashed its dividend by 40 per cent on Friday, the first such move by a major Canadian lender in almost three decades.

The Montreal-based lender said Friday its profit fell by 79 per cent to $8.9 million, and its provisions for credit losses — the amount of money the bank is setting aside to cover loans that may go bad — soared to $54.9 million. That's up from $9 million in the same period a year ago.

COVID-19 is throwing uncertainty to the bank's outlook, so it cut its dividend to 40 cents a share as a precaution. Previously it was 67 cents a share.

"We have a strong capital and liquidity position, and disciplined risk management, but it is a time for prudence," CEO François Desjardins said. "Although we believe that current earnings are not reflective of the future earnings power of the organisation, we have reduced the dividend to $0.40 per share which improves operational flexibility until we reap the anticipated benefits of our strategic plan."

The last time a major Canadian bank slashed its dividend was 1992, when National Bank cut the payout to its shareholders.

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