October 22, 2012 / 11:46 AM / 6 years ago

Agrium completes share buyback, to double dividend payout

TORONTO, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Canadian fertilizer maker and agricultural goods retailer Agrium Inc said on Monday its board plans to double its annual dividend payout.

The move, announced just as the company completed a C$900 million ($908.4 million) share buyback, comes in the face of pressure from its largest shareholder Jana Partners LLC, which wants the company to explore options to boost shareholder value.

The hedge fund, which owns about 4.0 percent of the Calgary, Alberta-based company, also wants Agrium to improve disclosure, reduce operating costs and working capital and address some corporate costs.

Agrium said on Monday it intends to double its dividend to $2 a share on an annualized basis and move to a quarterly payment schedule from a semiannual payout, as of the next scheduled dividend in January. 

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