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Onex hikes dividend 36 per cent despite first-quarter loss

File photo of Onex chief Gerald Schwartz.

MARK BLINCH/REUTERS

Onex Corp. has approved a 36 per cent increase in its quarterly dividend despite swinging to a loss in the first quarter.

The Toronto-based private equity firm says its net loss attributable to shareholders in the three months ended March 31 was $271-million (U.S.) or $2.71 per share.

Last year it reported net earnings of $173-million or 51 cents per share in the same period.

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Revenue improved six per cent to $7.2-billion from $6.8-billion.

The dividend increase, to 3.75 cents per share in Canadian currency, would produce an annual yield of 0.3 per cent based on Thursday's closing share price of $49.95 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"After investing $1.5-billion in five businesses in the fourth quarter of last year, we have been busy working with our management teams to execute our investment plans," chairman and CEO Gerald Schwartz said in a statement Friday.

"The first couple of years following an acquisition are often the busiest for Onex. For each of the five businesses just acquired, we have a specific plan for improvement and growth."

Meanwhile, Onex continues to look for new acquisition opportunities, with Schwartz noting the deal announced earlier this week to buy Nielsen Expositions from its parent company.

"Corporate carve-outs are probably our favourite type of transaction and we believe that this business will be in a stronger position to grow as a stand-alone company under our ownership," he said.

With offices in Toronto, New York and London, Onex has approximately $16-billion of assets under management – including $5-billion of proprietary capital – in private equity, credit securities and real estate. Onex invests its proprietary capital directly and as a substantial limited partner in its funds.

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Onex' businesses have assets of $44-billion, generate annual revenues of $37-billion and employ about 243,000 people worldwide.

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