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 frmo $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.
More to come