Message from Executive Chairman and President
We made substantial progress in 2013 as we addressed regulatory issues on behalf of customers and drove significant value through share price appreciation and capital return.
The past year was one of progress. Throughout 2013, we faced many challenges as we worked with regulators and industry participants to successfully navigate the three waves of the Dodd-Frank clearing mandate. Our team’s efforts in dealing with a dynamically changing landscape inside and outside the United States have been exceptional. In addition, the economy showed signs of incremental improvement and the Federal Reserve began taking steps to reduce quantitative easing. We have made great strides in building our own business for the future. Further, we have been very proactive in the regulatory process, working with our customers to help move their businesses forward under the new and evolving market structure.
Total company volume in 2013 was 3.2 billion contracts traded, which generated $1.3 billion in cash from operations. Reflecting this strength, and consistent with the principles guiding our capital structure, we paid quarterly dividends totaling approximately $600 million, as well as the company’s annual variable dividend of nearly $870 million, which was paid in January 2014. When CME Group adopted its annual variable dividend structure in February 2012, the intention was to determine the excess cash available at the end of each year, with the level to increase or decrease from year to year based on operating results, potential investment activity and other forms of capital return. In total, including both regular and variable dividends, the company has returned more than $2.7 billion to shareholders since the beginning of 2012.
As part of our global strategy, we continue to expand our customer base worldwide and offer the most broadly diversified portfolio of benchmark products. During the year, we achieved multiple volume records across our core products, and we made a concerted effort to drive growth in our options business, which rose 20 percent. Another area of progress in 2013 was our over-the-counter (OTC) business. We have become the buy-side leader in OTC interest rate swap clearing in both average trades per day and open interest.
In addition, our international business continues to thrive. Trading volumes outside the United States grew 14 percent, with volumes up 29 percent in Latin America, 22 percent in Asia and 11 percent in Europe compared with the prior year. Further, we received regulatory approval to launch our new London-based derivatives exchange in the second quarter of 2014, and we have enhanced our ability to serve new customers in Asia by working closely with a number of major intermediaries.
In all of these efforts, our overriding goal is to drive value by continuing to expand the business worldwide and enhance our role in the global economy, while returning a significant amount of capital to our shareholders.