MEMPHIS, Tenn., Oct. 12, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- International Paper today announced its board of directors has authorized a share repurchase program to acquire up to $2 billion of the company's common stock. The new authorization is in addition to $1.3 billion remaining as of the end of the third quarter from a previous repurchase authorization. During the third quarter the company repurchased approximately $212 million in common stock at an average price of $59.13 per share. The company intends to continue repurchasing such shares in open market transactions. The company's board of directors also decreased the quarterly common stock dividend by $0.05 per share or 9.8%, which brings the per share dividend to $1.85 annually.
"Returning cash to shareowners through dividends and share repurchases is a meaningful part of our capital allocation framework," said Mark Sutton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Today's announcement reflects our confidence in International Paper's long-term outlook and strong free cash flow generation. We are committed to a competitive and sustainable dividend of 40 to 50% of free cash flow. The dividend adjustment we are making is consistent with our dividend policy and is well below the 15 to 20% adjustment we anticipated when we announced the spin-off of our printing papers business late last year. Additionally, share repurchases will continue to complement dividends with a consistent and thoughtful cadence that's underpinned by a commitment to maximize value creation."
The dividend is being decreased by 9.8% from $0.5125 to $0.4625 per share for the period from October 1, 2021, to December 31, 2021, inclusive, on the company's common stock, par value $1.00. This dividend is payable on December 15, 2021, to holders of record at the close of business on November 15, 2021. The company's board of directors also declared a regular quarterly dividend of $1.00 per share for the period from October 1, 2021, to December 31, 2021, inclusive, on the cumulative $4.00 preferred stock of the company. This dividend is also payable on December 15, 2021, to holders of record at the close of business on November 15, 2021.
About International Paper
International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a leading global producer of renewable fiber-based packaging and pulp products with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, North Africa and Europe. We produce corrugated packaging products that protect and promote goods and enable worldwide commerce, and pulp for diapers, tissue, and other personal hygiene products that promote health and wellness. We are headquartered in Memphis, Tenn. and employ approximately 38,000 colleagues. Net sales for 2020 were $21 billion*. For more information about International Paper, our products, and global citizenship efforts, please visit internationalpaper.com.
*Inclusive of our former pulp and paper mill in Kwidzyn, Poland, which was sold on August 6, 2021, and our former global papers business, which became a standalone, publicly traded company on October 1, 2021.
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SOURCE International Paper