04/29/2014 07:48 EDT | Updated 06/29/2014 05:59 EDT

Methanex ups dividend 25%; plans to buy back up to 5% per cent of its sares

VANCOUVER - Methanex Corp. (TSX:MX) (Nasdaq:MEOH) says it plans to return "excess cash" to shareholders in the form of a 25 per cent increase in its quarterly dividend and a buyback of up to five per cent of its more than 96 million shares.

Vancouver-based Methanex, the world's largest producer and supplier of methanol to major international markets, announced after markets closed Tuesday that it would be increasing its dividend to 25 cents US per share, up from 20 cents, payable June 30 to shareholders of record on June 16.

Meanwhile, the company said its board has approved a the purchase for cancellation up to 4.8 million common shares, or about five per cent of the 96.5 million shares outstanding.

"Our announcement of a new share repurchase program, along with the increase in the dividend, reflects our balanced approach to the utilization of cash and builds on our long track record of returning excess cash to shareholders," CEO John Floren said in a statement.

"Since 2000, we have repurchased approximately 45 per cent of the company's shares. With approximately $700 million of cash on hand at the end of the first quarter of 2014, we have the financial strength and flexibility to meet our commitments for our Geismar projects, pursue investment opportunities and continue to return excess cash to shareholders."

The share buyback program will begin May 6, with purchases made from time to time at market price on the Nasdaq.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Methanex shares closed up $1.93, or 2.84 per cent, at C$69.90 on Tuesday. On the Nasdaq, the issue closed up $2.35, or 3.82 per cent, at US$63.94.