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Asia Pacific lags other regions in dividends – Janus Henderson

Singapore bucked the broader trend in the region, while payouts in China were more muted due to a weaker economic outlook.

Asia Pacific was the weakest region globally for paying dividends last year as payouts fell 6% on an underlying basis to $172.3bn, according to the latest Janus Henderson Global Dividend Index.

However, the fourth quarter did see the pace of decline in the region slow to -0.5% on an underlying basis and payouts varied across the region.

Payouts in Hong Kong were $55.5bn, down 1.2% on an underlying basis. Janus Henderson noted that troubles in the property sector reduced payouts by 2.5 percentage points, while oil producer CNOOC was the biggest culprit, cutting its regular dividend and not repeating its large payout in 2022.

Despite the drop in overall payouts, seven out of 10 of Hong Kong’s companies increased their dividends or kept them unchanged.

Singapore was the bright spot last year as it registered a record payout of $11.9bn, equivalent to an underlying growth of 26.8%. This was largely a result of the banking sector due to higher net interest margins.

Meanwhile, Australia saw payouts tumble 10.7% on an underlying basis to $60.8bn due to big cuts from mining groups even as three-quarters of companies increased their dividends or kept them the same.

China’s dividends increased 4.2% on an underlying basis to $52.3bn, which was almost exclusively down to PetroChina, which raised its distribution by more than a third.

However, two-thirds of companies in China cut dividends, far more than in any other major country in the region, reflecting the weak economic outlook.

In Japan, distributions were up 10.5% on an underlying basis to $78.9bn and growth was broad-based with 91% of Japanese companies raising payouts or keeping them the same.

In yen terms, dividends in Japan hit a record last year, although this was not the case in US dollar terms due to the weak exchange rate.

Finally, in Korea, dividends dipped by 0.9% to $14.4bn, while Taiwan witnessed a steeper decline of 13% to $29.8bn.

Part of the Mark Allen Group.