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Oracle sends shareholders cash as tax uncertainty looms

By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Oracle Corp said it would give over $800 million back to shareholders, joining a growing number of companies accelerating dividend payments or declaring special dividends because of uncertainty surrounding the U.S. government's fiscal plans.

About $600 billion of automatic tax increases and spending cuts are scheduled to come into effect in the United States early next year, which could include higher rates for dividends.

Congress and the White House are negotiating alternative ways to reduce the federal budget deficit but no agreement is in sight.

To avoid potentially higher tax bills for their investors, companies including Costco and Wal-Mart have either moved up scheduled payments or declared special dividends.

Oracle declared accelerated second-, third- and fourth-quarter cash dividends totaling 18 cents per share of outstanding common stock, equivalent to $867 million, according to Thomson Reuters data.

In some cases, insiders are among the biggest beneficiaries of the special payouts, as well as shifts of regular dividends into 2012 from 2013.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, the technology company's largest shareholder, is entitled to dividends worth $198.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Ellison did not participate in discussions or vote on the matter, Oracle said in a statement on Monday.

The accelerated dividend will be paid to stockholders of record as of close of business on December 14, with a payment date of December 21, 2012.

Also on Monday, DISH Network Corporation declared a non-recurring dividend of $1 per share payable on December 28 to shareholders of record as of December 14.

Shares of Oracle slipped 0.40 percent in after-hours trade after closing up 0.42 percent at $32.31.

(Additional reporting by Ben Berkowitz in New York and Bill Rigby in Seattle; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz, Bernard Orr)

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