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Microsoft plans $60 billion share-buyback program, raises dividend

Microsoft Corp.’s board approved a plan to buy back as much as $60 billion of its stock, extending the tech giant’s extensive repurchase program at a time when Congressional Democrats have proposed taxing companies that do buybacks.

Microsoft didn’t provide a timetable for the repurchases. It said Tuesday the program doesn’t have an expiration date and could be terminated any time.

The program is larger than the last one approved by the board, a $40 billion buyback program set in 2019. It had $8.7 billion remaining under that share-purchase authorization as of June 30.

Among S&P 500 companies, Microsoft has been among the biggest stock repurchasers this year, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. The company, which is America’s second-largest public company by market value behind Apple Inc., spent about $23 billion on share repurchases in the year ended June 30, according to a securities filing.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate last week proposed levying a 2% excise tax on publicly traded companies’ stock buybacks as part of measures to help fund sweeping new measures aimed at healthcare, education and the climate.

Proposals on corporate taxes and capital gains have faced opposition from within the party, in addition to stiff opposition from Republicans against tax increases.

The company, which set its annual shareholder meeting for Nov. 30, raised its quarterly dividend to 62 cents a share from 56 cents a share. The dividend is payable on Dec. 9 to shareholders of record as of Nov. 18.

Microsoft also named its president and legal chief, Brad Smith, 62 years old, as vice chairman, which the company described as an updated executive role. Mr. Smith, who joined Microsoft in 1993 and was named president in 2015, often provides the public voice for the company’s policy positions. Mr. Smith isn’t joining the company’s now 11-member board. WSJ

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