Commenting on these decisions, Chairman Don Argus said: "Moving our dividend declaration dates to February and August, to coincide with our half year and full year earnings announcements, brings us into line with normal market practice. The second interim dividend is being paid to reflect the change in timing of our final dividend which will now be declared in August of this year rather than May, as has been the case in recent years. What will not change is our focus on pursuing a progressive dividend policy."
The second interim dividend of 8.5 US cents per share will be paid to BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc shareholders on 5 May 2004 and represents an increase of 13.3% over the final dividend of 7.5 US cents per share, paid on 2 July 2003.
Timetable for BHP Billiton's second interim dividend
A second interim dividend of 8.5 US cents per share will be paid to BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc shareholders on 5 May 2004, an increase of 13.3% over the final dividend of 7.5 US cents per share, paid on 2 July 2003. The BHP Billiton Limited dividend will be fully franked for Australian taxation purposes.
Dividends for the BHP Billiton Group are determined and declared in US dollars. However, BHP Billiton Limited dividends are mainly paid in Australian dollars and BHP Billiton Plc dividends are mainly paid in pounds sterling to shareholders on the UK section of the register and South African rand to shareholders on the South African section of the register. The rates of exchange applicable two business days before the announcement date are used for conversion, and are detailed below.
The timetable in respect of this dividend will be:
Currency conversion 19 March 2004
Last day to trade Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) 6 April 2004
Ex-dividend Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) 7 April 2004
Ex-dividend Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) 8 April 2004
Ex-dividend London Stock Exchange (LSE) 14 April 2004
Record 16 April 2004
American Depositary Shares (ADSs) each represent two fully paid ordinary shares and receive dividends accordingly. The record date for BHP Billiton Limited ADSs is 15 April 2004 and for BHP Billiton Plc ADSs is 16 April 2004.
BHP Billiton Plc shareholders registered on the South African section of the register will not be able to dematerialise or rematerialise their shareholdings, nor will they be able to effect transfers between the UK register and the South African register between the dates of 7 April 2004 and 16 April 2004.
The following table details the exchange rates applicable for conversion of the dividend payable on 5 May 2004:
Dividend 8.5 US Cents Exchange Rate Divident per ordinary Share in local currency Australian cents 0.749716 11.337627 British pence 1.833993 4.634696 South African cents 6.626434 56.324689 New Zealand cents 0.656200 12.953368
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