"Our strong momentum in 2015 was driven by a clear strategy and disciplined execution. We delivered our highest room openings since 2009, our best signings since 2008, 11% underlying profit growth and 19% underlying EPS growth.
Our high quality, fee based, business continues to generate significant operating cash flows following the completion of our major asset disposal programme. Reflecting this and our on-going focus on delivering shareholder value, we today announce a $1.5bn special dividend, which will take total funds returned since 2003 to $12bn.
We have strengthened our brand portfolio, adding Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants into the IHG family and accelerating signings across our mainstream and extended stay brands. Through effective online distribution management we grew our direct digital revenue more than any other channel, and building on our track record of innovation we are on course to begin the roll out of a next generation cloud based Guest Reservation System in 2017.
Looking into the medium term, despite economic and political uncertainty in some markets, the prospects for the hotel industry remain good and the strength of our business model gives us the confidence to propose a 10% increase in totaldividend for the year."