Aflac to accelerate share repurchase

Aflac Inc. will accelerate its repurchase of about 12 million shares of its common stock in this year's first quarter, the company announced Tuesday. It will pay for it with internal capital.

Aflac's board of directors authorized the purchase of up to an additional 30 million shares — meant to provide for share repurchase activities in the future. This amount is in addition to the 25.6 million shares under a previous authorization as of Dec. 31, 2007. The total number of shares available for purchase, then, is 55.6 million.

The board also gave a thumbs up to a 17.1 percent increase in the quarterly cash dividend. It is effective with the first quarter payment. The first quarter dividend — 24 cents per share — is payable on March 3 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Feb. 20.

"I am very pleased with today's actions by our board of directors," Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan Amos said in a statement. "These steps are consistent with our intention of deploying excess capital in a manner that benefits our shareholders, while still maintaining very strong capital adequacy ratios to support our ratings."