UPDATE 1-CF Industries hikes dividend under pressure from activist

Thu Oct 17, 2013 4:47pm EDT
 
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Oct 17 (Reuters) - U.S. nitrogen fertilizer producer CF Industries Holdings Inc said on Thursday that it would more than double its quarterly dividend, facing pressure to do so from an activist investor.

The quarterly dividend rises to $1 per share from 40 cents and reflects the company's confidence in its business model, Chief Executive Steve Wilson said.

Hedge fund Third Point LLC, headed by Daniel Loeb, announced a 1.5 percent stake in CF in July and called for a bigger dividend.

Third Point said that CF's access to low-cost North American natural gas - the primary input in nitrogen fertilizer production - gives the company an advantage over global peers with higher input costs.

Shares of CF, the world's No. 2 nitrogen fertilizer maker after Norway's Yara International ASA, edged up 0.7 percent after normal trading hours in New York. The stock had closed at $209.54.

Wilson will retire at the end of 2013 and be replaced by Tony Will, senior vice-president of manufacturing and distribution, just as CF carries out a $3.8-billion expansion.