Microsoft Shareholders Sanction $32B Special Dividend

November 9, 2004 ( - Microsoft Corp. shareholders on Tuesday approved a special $32-billion dividend ($3 per share) to compensate employees for the projected share decrease when the money moves from the company's bank to shareholder's pockets.

The shareholder move, involving dividends payable on December 2 for shareholders of record on November 17,    came at the giant software maker’s annual meeting, Reuters reported. The purpose of the initiative was to maintain the value of employee stock options and awards.

For stock options, the price at which shares can be bought will be adjusted downward and the number of options will be increased, according to a predefined formula. For employees compensated under Microsoft’s more recent stock award program, adopted when Microsoft stopped issuing stock options last year, the number of shares awarded will be increased (see  Microsoft Shareholders Pass Stock Plan ).

The resulting cash pile, which grew to nearly $60 billion, led to investors pressuring the company to return funds to shareholders; and in July, Microsoft announced the one-time dividend, along with a doubling of its annual dividend and a four-year share buyback plan.

Some 94% of shares voted were in support of the measure at the meeting in Bellevue, Washington, the city between Seattle and Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters.