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Austria's Erste Group plans February dividend but won't defy ECB

VIENNA, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Austria’s Erste Group Bank plans to pay a dividend for 2019 in February of next year provided the European Central Bank (ECB) has lifted its recommendation against such payouts by then, Erste said on Thursday.

Earlier this year, the ECB told banks here to halt share buybacks and dividend payments as a deep, pandemic-induced recession would deplete much of their available capital.

Erste is proposing a dividend payment of 75 cents per share to its annual shareholder meeting on Nov. 10, it said in a statement after the stock market closed.

“This payout equates to approx. 22% of 2019 consolidated net profit and is conditional upon regulators adjusting their current recommendation to refrain from distributions to shareholders and no other legal restrictions being in force prohibiting such distributions,” the company said.

“This payment is scheduled for 15 February 2021, provided that on 8 February 2021 all conditions are met,” it added.

ECB board member Yves Mersch said last month here the central bank would revisit its recommendation in December and may move to a more flexible, case-by-case approach. (Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Mark Potter)

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