UK dividends increased to a record £18.8bn (€23bn) last quarter after one-time payments from Vodafone and Cairn Energy.
Payouts climbed by 25pc from a year ago, reaching the highest level for a first quarter, Capita Registrars said in a report, citing figures from Exchange Data International. Excluding the special dividends, growth was 6.6pc, compared with a 13pc gain for all of 2011.
Vodafone and Cairn Energy each paid out £2.2bn in extraordinary dividends as another 157 UK companies also disbursed cash in the first quarter, according to the report. In the same period, the nation's benchmark FTSE 100 Index advanced 3.5pc as the European Central Bank channelled €1 trillion to the region's lenders to spur lending.
"Early evidence suggests the economy was in better shape through the first quarter," Charles Cryer, chief executive officer of Capita Registrars, said in a statement. "As the eurozone crisis abates, this may give companies greater confidence to return cash as the year goes by." Capita increased its full-year dividend forecast by £1.3bn to a record £76.3bn. That would be an increase of 12pc on 2011. (Bloomberg)