Companies listed in the UK paid a record £16.6bn ($20.61bn) in the form of dividends to investors in the final quarter of 2016. This marked a year-on-year increase of £5.2bn, according to Capita Asset Services' UK Dividend Monitor.
The rise in dividends in the fourth quarter pushed the total in 2016 to £84.7bn, which was 6.6% higher than 2015.
Around 90% of this increase was attributed to the decline in the value of the pound following the Brexit vote. The devaluation of the pound had made payments in dollars or euros more valuable. The monitor noted that two-fifths of payouts by UK-listed groups were in these currencies. The remaining 10% of the increase was attributed to special dividend payouts.
Shell paid the maximum dividend totalling £11.1bn, which made it the largest dividend paying company in the world.
HSBC and GlaxoSmithKline were the second and third largest dividend payers, respectively. For 2016, the UK banking firm had paid dividends to the tune of £7.5bn. The top five dividend paying companies accounted for 38% of total UK dividends paid out in 2016. This percentage was up from one-third in 2015.
Sector-wise, Capita said dividend paid by mining companies had decreased to their lowest level since 2009. They had paid just £3.3bn in 2016, down 50% on-year. However, the low dividend payout was offset by higher payouts by consumer goods firms and banks.
Commenting on the findings, Justin Cooper, CEO of shareholder solutions at Capita told the Financial Times, "2016 was an unusual year for dividends. It started pessimistically with a raft of high-profile cuts taking their toll. But the second-largest haul of special dividends on record, with the added alchemy of huge exchange rate gains following the pound's devaluation in the summer, ultimately turned a rather leaden year golden."