|Number of shares (million)||Total cost (£million)|
|Total year ended 31 March 2004||800||1,088|
|Total year ended 31 March 2005||2,985||4,000|
|Total year ended 31 March 2006||4,848||6,500|
|Total year ended 31 March 2007||-||-|
|Total year ended 31 March 2008||-||-|
|Total year ended 31 March 2009||736||1,000|
|Total year ended 31 March 2010||-||-|
|Total year ended 31 March 2011||1,238||2,125|
|Total year ended 31 March 2012||2,102||3,580|
|Total year ended 31 March 2013*||894||1,544|
|Total year ended 31 March 2014||552||1,034|
|Total year ended 31 March 2015||-||-|
|Total year ended 31 March 2016||-||-|
|Total year ended 31 March 2017||-||-|
|Total year ended 31 March 2018||729||1,440|
* up to 31 December 2012
When considering how increased returns to shareholders can be provided in the form of share purchases, the Board reviews the free cash flow, anticipated cash requirements, dividends, credit profile and gearing of the Group. The Board will continue to consider share purchase programmes, subject to our stated target of maintaining a net debt to EBITDA multiple of 2.5-3x.
On 24 May 2005, the directors allocated £4.5 billion to the share purchase programme for the year to March 2006. At the Company's Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 26 July 2005, the Company received shareholder approval to purchase up to 6.4 billion shares through to the next AGM, expected to be held in July 2006. Shares can be purchased on market on the London Stock Exchange at a price not exceeding 105% of the average middle market quotation for such shares on the five business days prior to the date of purchase and otherwise in accordance with the rules of the Financial Services Authority. Purchases are made only if accretive to earnings per share, excluding items not related to underlying business performance.
On 15 November 2005, the Board decided to allocate a further £2 billion to the share purchase programme for the year to March 2006, raising the total allocated for the year to £6.5 billion. For the period from 1 April 2005 to 14 November 2005, the Company purchased 2,407 million shares at a cost of £3.4 billion.
In addition to ordinary market purchases, the Company has placed irrevocable purchase instructions prior to the start of close periods and in advance of quarterly KPI announcements.
On 23 July, 2008, the Board announced that it had considered the market reaction to the Group's Interim Management Statement and decided to introduce a £1 billion share repurchase programme with immediate effect.
Following the disposal of the Group’s 3.2% interest in China Mobile Limited on 10 September 2010, a £2.8 billion share buyback programme was initiated under the authority granted by shareholders at the 2010 AGM. This programme completed in June 2011.
On 20 June 2011, the Company commenced a £4.0 billion share buyback programme in order to return a significant part of the proceeds arising from the disposal of its 44% interest in SFR. This programme completed in August 2012.
On 13 November 2012, the Board announced that it intended to allocate £1.5 billion to a share buyback programme following receipt of a £2.4 billion dividend from Verizon Wireless. This programme commenced on 10 December 2012.
On 31 August 2017, the Company commenced a share buyback programme to repurchase the 729m shares which were issued on 25 August 2017 to satisfy the first tranche of mandatory convertible bonds, in order to neutralise the equity dilution which would otherwise have occurred.