PETALING JAYA - Malaysia's largest pension fund EPF on Saturday (Feb 10) declared a dividend of 6.9 per cent for 2017, The Star newspaper reported, the highest dividend rate in more than two decades.
The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) announced that the dividend payout will total RM44.15 billion (S$14.83 billion).
It also declared a 6.4 per cent dividend rate for shariah savings (Simpanan Shariah) for last year, with payout totalling RM3.98 billion.
The total payout for 2017 amounts to RM48.13 billion for the 14 million workers registered with the pension fund.
Analysts have previously said the bumper dividend will bring cheer to many Malaysians just ahead of the general election which is expected soon.
The 2017 amount is an increase of 29.8 per cent over the previous year.
The EPF, which manages RM800 billion in assets, declared a dividend of 5.7 per cent for 2016 and 6.4 per cent for 2015.
The last time the pension fund handed out more than 7 per cent was in 1996, before the currency crisis that plagued Asian markets in the next two years.
The EPF's best dividend since then was 1999's 6.84 per cent.
In announcing the dividend on Saturday, EPF chairman Samsudin Osman said the asset manager was pleased with the overall performance in 2017, which was also a landmark year for EPF as it is now managing two savings schemes and declaring two dividend rates, The Star said.
"Simpanan Shariah has shown a strong performance considering that this is its first dividend declaration. This reaffirms the strength and health of EPF's shariah asset and should come as good news to our members who have switched to Simpanan Shariah," he said in a statement.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said later that the high dividends were the result of good management and investments.
"Alhamdulillah (Praise God) as a result of good management and investments, today EPF declared a dividend rate of 6.9% for conventional savings and 6.4% for shariah savings," he wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
"The distribution of dividends and gross investment income this year is higher than last year. Congratulations EPF!"