Praxair, Inc. has authorised a new share repurchase program for up to $1.5bn of its common stock. According to the North American firm, the move reflects a strong balance sheet and free cash-flow.

Steve Angel, Chairman and CEO for the North American firm commented, “This new program reflects the board’s confidence in Praxair’s continuing ability to generate steady earnings growth and cash flow around the world over the next several years.”

In a recent press statement the company added that repurchases may take place from time to time on the open market which may include the use of 10b5-1 trading plans or through negotiated transactions, subject to market and business conditions. Praxair added, the current $1.5 billion repurchase program in effect since July 2010 has been substantially completed.

The board of directors has also declared a 10% increase in Praxair’s quarterly dividend to 55 cents per share, payable on 15th March 2012 to common shareholders of record on 7th March 2012. This is the 19th consecutive annual increase in Praxair’s dividend.