Dividend policy

a.s.r. strives to annually pay an interim and final dividend that creates sustainable long-term value for its shareholders. a.s.r. has a dividend policy with a pay-out ratio of the total dividend for any year of 45% to 55% of the net operating result attributable to shareholders (i.e. net of hybrid costs). a.s.r. intends to pay out an interim dividend that is set at 40% of the dividend for the previous year.
To support its ability to pay out the proposed dividend, a.s.r. seeks to maintain a liquidity buffer at the holding company (as at year-end) that is at least equal to or in excess of the dividends paid out in the previous year (representative for one year's dividend) plus the holding costs and interest payments for the one-year period that have not yet been allocated. In addition, a.s.r. aims to ensure that the liquidity buffer during the year is sufficient to cover holding costs and interest payments for at least one year. However, a.s.r. seeks to hold as much capital and liquidity as possible at the level of the regulated legal entities.
a.s.r. aims to operate at a Solvency II ratio above a management threshold level. This management threshold level is currently defined at 160% (standard formula) of the SCR. If and when a.s.r. operates above 160% for a prolonged period and a.s.r. cannot invest this capital in value-creating opportunities, a.s.r. may return capital to shareholders. If a.s.r. elects to return capital, it intends to do so in the form that is most efficient for shareholders at that specific point in time, such as additional dividends or share buy-backs.
When proposing a dividend, a.s.r. will take into account, among other things, its capital position, leverage and liquidity position, regulatory requirements and strategic considerations as well as the expected developments thereof. There is no requirement or assurance that a.s.r. will declare and pay any dividends. In general, a.s.r. would not expect to distribute dividend if the Group level Solvency II ratio falls below 140%.

Dividend 2019

ASR Nederland N.V. (a.s.r.) has taken notice of the recommendations issued by The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and the Dutch Central Bank (DNB) to the (European) insurance sector on 2 April 2020, to temporarily postpone any dividend payments and share buyback programs until the financial and economic impact over the COVID-19 outbreak becomes clear. a.s.r. will comply with the recommendation and postpone its final dividend for 2019.

The dividend proposal amounted to € 1.90 per share of which € 0.70 already has been paid as interim dividend in 2019. It will be our intention to pay the remainder of the dividend and resume the share buyback program in the second half of 2020 if and when in line with our existing dividend policy and appropriate given the developments of COVID-19.

History of dividend paid and proposed over 2019

  Dividend (in € million) Dividend per share
2014¹ 139 0.93
2015¹ 170 1.13
20162 187 1.27
20173 230 1.63
2018 245 1.74
2019 267 1.90

1 Restated for 2014 & 2015 based on 150 million shares. On 13 January, 12 June and 14 September 2017, a.s.r. purchased a total of 9 million shares in a share buy-back. These shares are held as treasury stock and are not eligible for dividend.

2 Based on 147 million shares after the share buy-back and withdrawal of 3 million shares.
3 The number of outstanding shares amounts to 141 million shares as at 31 December 2017, excluding 6 million treasury shares. 141 million shares are entitled to dividend over the 2017 annual result.
4 The number of outstanding shares amount to 140.748.799 shares as at 31 December 2019. a.s.r. purchased shares as part of the employee share plan during the course of 2019.