December 9, 2010 / 6:53 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Astral Media raises annual dividend 50 pct

* Sets annual dividend of C$0.75/shr

* Names new COO

Dec 9 (Reuters) - Canadian broadcaster Astral Media ACMa.TOACMb.TO increased its annual dividend 50 percent, given its performance in 2010 and positive outlook for 2011.

The company’s board approved an annual dividend for its Class A and Class B shares of 75 Canadian cents a share, or 37.5 Canadian cents half-yearly.

Earlier in the day, Montreal-based Astral, which operates television, radio and outdoor advertising units, appointed Jacques Parisien as its chief operating officer and executive vice-president.

The company also said it generated C$125 million in free cash flow in the year, of which C$105 million went to debt repayment.

“In the second half of fiscal 2010, we saw signs of recovery in the Canadian advertising market and we now turn to the future with the hope that this momentum will carry through in fiscal 2011,” Chief Executive Ian Greenberg said in a statement.

The company posted a 2 percent rise in net earnings in its fourth quarter, helped by a recovery in advertising markets. [ID:nN27135451]

The company’s Class A shares, which have gained 7 percent in value since posting fourth-quarter results in October, were up 27 Canadian cents at C$42.26 in afternoon trade on Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Isheeta Sanghi in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian)

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