BB&T in Winston-Salem, N.C., will use a portion of the money it is saving from the reduction in the corporate tax rate to pay a special dividend to shareholders.

The $216 billion-asset company will pay a one-time dividend of 4.5 cents per common share to shareholders of record as of March 6. The dividend will be paid on March 20. The Federal Reserve has approved BB&T’s amended capital plan, which includes the payment of the special dividend.

The special dividend will be paid in addition to BB&T’s regular dividend of 33 cents per common share, payable on March 1.

Kelly King, chairman and CEO of BB&T Corp.
“In addition to our associates and the communities we serve, our shareholders deserve to share in the tax reform benefits we've received,” BB&T Chairman and CEO Kelly King said. Bloomberg News

In December, President Trump signed into a law an overhaul of the U.S. tax system that, among other things, reduced the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Many banks, including BB&T, responded by announcing plans to increase their minimum wage and pay one-time bonuses to employees who typically are not eligible for them.

“In addition to our associates and the communities we serve, our shareholders deserve to share in the tax reform benefits we've received,” Chairman and CEO Kelly King said in a news release Thursday. “They are fundamental to BB&T's success, and we greatly value the long-term trust and commitment our shareholders have given to BB&T through the years.”

Some analysts have expected banks to revive the practice of paying special dividends as a result of the new tax law. If banks believe that they cannot achieve desired returns on capital through regular dividends or buybacks, they could pay one-time special dividends, RBC Capital Markets analyst Gerard Cassidy said.

Banks subject to the Federal Reserve’s stress tests, such as BB&T, must ask regulators’ permission to pay special dividends. These banks did not seek approval during the financial crisis as they instead built up capital levels.

BB&T also expects to ask Fed permission to raise its dividend, in connection with this year’s Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review stress tests. The request will be submitted during the second quarter.

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Andy Peters

Andy Peters

Andy Peters writes about regional banks, consumer finance and debt collections for American Banker.