Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) lifted its caps on Singapore-based banking and financial companies’ dividend restrictions imposed last year after the pandemic’s impact. Around the same time last year, the MAS had asked local banks and finance companies to cap total dividends per share (DPS) for FY2020 at 60% of FY2019’s DPS, giving shareholders an option of receiving the remaining dividends to be paid for FY2020 in shares in lieu of cash. OCBC, DBS and UOB will report earnings in the first week of August and DBS analyst Lim Rui Wen expects all three to increase dividends to ~50%. “The (dividend payout) ratio was generally 40-55% among the three with DBS typically doing a little more as profitability was a tad higher, as was return on equity. DBS will likely pay out more ahead too, to at least match pre-Covid levels”, said Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Kevin Kwek. The move by the MAS follows international peers like the Fed, ECB and BoE that lifted caps over the last month.

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