Investors eye a piece of the large cash kitty as growth slows
Barely a week after the US-based software services player Cognizant Technology Solutions, which has several delivery centres in India, announced plans to return $3.4 billion to its shareholders through buyback of shares and dividends, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), too, said its board would be meeting on Monday to consider a buyback plan.
In a statement to stock exchanges on Thursday,said, “We would like to inform you that the board of directors will consider a proposal for buyback of equity shares of the company at its meeting to be held on February 20, 2017.” If approved, this will be TCS’ first buyback since its listing in 2004.
The Street took the news positively, as stocks of domestic information technology (IT) majors – TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Tech Mahindra and HCL Technologies – were up 1.4-3 per cent on Thursday.
When asked about the company’s capital allocation plans, Rishad Premji, whole-time director and chief strategy officer, Wipro, said, “We did a buyback last year worth Rs 2,500 crore. We have a stated dividend payout ratio policy, which is 40-45 per cent, which we have maintained. We have said that on an annual basis, we actively discuss this within the company and evaluate what makes sense with the cash that the company generates. We are open to evaluating options like buyback, special dividends. It makes sense for the organisation, as we move forward.”
Buybacks are seen as the preferred route over dividends, as they are more tax-efficient. Besides dividend distribution tax at an effective rate of over 20 per cent, dividend income in the hands of all residents, except domestic companies, trusts or funds, also attracts an additional dividend tax of 10 per cent on dividend income over Rs 10 lakh a year.