German engineering conglomerate Siemens is seeking to use historically low interest rates to buy back millions of its shares. In spite of a huge war chest, the firm wants to raise new debt to finance the program.
The buy-back program was intended to run to the end of the year, with the aim of repurchasing about 43 million shares traded in global stock markets, Siemens announced Friday.
The German conglomerate said that it expected costs of up to 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion), and that it planned to issue corporate bonds to fund the program.
Publicly listed companies use buy-back programs to push share prices higher as the number of shares on offer is reduced while demand for them grows.
Siemens said the program was authorized by its shareholders at a meeting in January. About 33 million shares in the company were to be permanently taken off markets, while 10 million shares would be used as bonuses to staff and management.
Presumably, the firm's program is prompted by low interest rates in capital markets, as well as by low share prices for Siemens stock, which have plunged by 10 percent since the beginning of this year.
Analysts expect Siemens to pay about three percent interest on its new corporate bonds. In view of a current dividend yield of 4.3 percent to be paid by Siemens, the shares buy-back would save the company enormous costs.
That is why Siemens said that it would not use its cash capital reserves, estimated at 9 billion euros, to repurchase the shares.