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Allstate, Prudential Return Cash to Investors

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Insurers Allstate Corp. and Prudential Financial announced plans to return cash to shareholders Tuesday with a stock buyback plan and dividend increase, respectively.

Prudential’s board approved a 64 percent increase in its annual dividend to $1.15 a share. The No. 2 U.S. life insurer will pay the dividend next month.

Meanwhile Allstate, the largest publicly traded U.S. home and auto insurer, said it will buy back $1 billion of its shares.

Thomas Wilson, Allstate chief executive, said the company wants to begin returning cash to shareholders.

The insurer, which did not need to raise capital during the financial crisis, will buy its shares in the open market, and plans to complete the repurchase program by March 31, 2012.

In its most recent filing with regulators, the company said that on Oct. 22 it had just over 538 million shares outstanding. Allstate shares closed down 2.4 percent at $30.28 before the announcement.

The company’s board also approved its quarterly dividend of 20 cents a share on Tuesday, Allstate said in the statement.

Separately, Allstate announced earlier on Tuesday it will now allow shareholders with at least 20 percent of Allstate’s outstanding stock to call special meetings.

Allstate shareholders approved a similar proposal at the company’s annual meeting in May, according to the statement.

“We are committed to shareowner accountability and strong corporate governance standards,” said Wilson in the statement.

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay. Editing by Robert MacMillan, Bernard Orr)


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