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Share buybacks announced by EnCana, Impala Platinum and PMI Group

Shareholders of several large corporates will have been cheered last week by the announcement of share buyback programmes for the coming year. EnCana, the Canadian gas company, announced a share buyback programme for 2005 which is to be funded by the proceeds from its sale of oil and natural gas assets in North America and Ecuador, expected to total $3 billion. The company had previously planned to buy back 5% of its stock, although the Toronto stock exchange has approved plans to buy back as much as 10%.

In South Africa, Impala Platinum, the world's second largest producer of platinum, unveiled plans to buy back R1.5 billion ($254 million) of its stock by June 30. The company bought back shares during the first half of 2004, using the proceeds of the sale of its stake in Lonmin mines to buy back 893,022 shares.

PMI Group, the U.S. property insurance company, also announced plans to repurchase up to $100 million of outstanding common stock The timing and amount of the repurchased shares would depend on market conditions and corporate requirements, the company said. This is the fifth time since 1996 that PMI Group has launched a share buyback programme.

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