US retailer Wal-Mart is to repurchase US$15bn of its shares.

The programme, approved by the retailer’s board of directors at its annual meeting of shareholders today (4 June), replaces the previous scheme announced on 5 June last year.

"Share repurchase and dividends represent great ways to return value to our shareholders. In fact, in the first quarter of fiscal 2011, our $3bn purchase representing 55.6m shares, was a record for Walmart," said Tom Schoewe, Wal-Mart CFO.

"During the past three years, our commitment to share repurchase was reflected in the company buying $18.5bn of shares. In addition to share repurchase, Walmart will pay shareholders more than $4.5bn in dividends during fiscal year 2011,” Schoewe added.

Wal-Mart said it is paying an annual dividend of $1.21 per share this fiscal year, an 11% increase from the $1.09 paid last year.