Kroger to buy back up to $500M in shares

Cincinnati The Kroger Co. said Thursday it will buy back $500 million in shares.

The plan replaces the $225 million remaining under its previous $1 billion repurchase program begun in January 2008.

Kroger plans to use free cash flow to buy back shares, pay dividends to shareholders and keep up its current debt rating.

Since 2000, Kroger said it has reduced debt by $1.5 billion.

Separately Kroger said it will issue a regular quarterly dividend of 9.5 cents, payable on Sept. 1 to shareholders of record as of Aug. 16.