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MasterCard doubles dividend, to buy back $2 billion of shares

An employee stands behind a MasterCard logo during the launch of the international credit card issuer's first ATM transaction in Myanmar, in
An employee stands behind a MasterCard logo during the launch of the international credit card issuer's first ATM transaction in Myanmar, in

(Reuters) - MasterCard Inc doubled its quarterly cash dividend and said it would buy back up to $2 billion of its Class A shares, days after the card payment network reported strong fourth- quarter results helped by its performance in emerging markets.

The new buyback program will become effective after the company completes its existing $1.5 billion repurchase program, which had about $440 million remaining as of January 25.

MasterCard shares were up 1.4 percent before the bell.

The new dividend of 60 cents per share effectively returns $75 million to shareholders every quarter, based on 124 million shares outstanding as of January 31.

"Our strong financial performance allows us to increase the return of cash to shareholders through our dividend and share repurchase programs," MasterCard Chief Executive Ajay Banga said in a statement.

MasterCard's fourth-quarter results topped Wall Street estimates, but the company said global economic uncertainty could slow revenue growth in 2013.

MasterCard, the world's second-biggest debit and credit card network after Visa Inc , has been boosting its presence in markets previously dominated by cash.

Both companies have been growing faster in Africa, Asia and the Middle East than in the United States in recent quarters.

Shares of the Purchase, New York-based company closed at $514.22 on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday. The shares have risen nearly 10 percent in the last three months.

(Reporting by Anil D'Silva; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Ted Kerr)

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