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MAS nudges finance firms to cap dividends, as it did for Singapore banks

THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Friday urged finance companies incorporated in Singapore to cap their fiscal 2020 total dividends per share at 60 per cent of fiscal 2019's level, the same way the regulator called for the Singapore banks to do so.

Finance companies in Singapore include Hong Leong Finance - Singapore's biggest finance company - Sing Investments & Finance, and Singapura Finance. 

Just as how MAS nudged Singapore banks to offer scrip dividends, the regulator on Friday encouraged finance companies to offer shareholders the option of receiving the dividends to be paid for fiscal 2020 in scrip in lieu of cash. 

MAS said the capital positions of the finance companies remain strong, and the dividend restriction is a "pre-emptive measure" to bolster the finance companies’ ability to still support the credit needs of businesses and consumers in the current business environment.

"The dividend restriction for finance companies balances the objective of capital conservation to sustain lending with the interests of shareholders who may rely on this income."

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All three Singapore banks have this week capped their interim dividend payouts and offered scrip dividends, in line with MAS's call made last week.

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