Dr Pepper Snapple Group, the third largest soft drinks group in the US, is to pay its first dividend to shareholders.

Dr Pepper Snapple will, for the first time, pay a quarterly dividend of US$0.15 per share.

Registered shareholders as of 21 December will be eligible to received the payment, which will be made on 8 January 2010, said the group today (20 November).

Dr Pepper Snapple's board has also approved a $200m share buyback over the next three years.

"As we approach our target capital structure, we believe the time is right to initiate a cash return program to our shareholders," said Larry Young, group president and CEO. "Today's actions reflect our confidence in our continuing ability to generate strong cash flow and our intent to deploy it in shareholder-friendly ways."

Dr Pepper Snapple reported a healthy lift in profits for its third quarter, despite a dip in sales for the period.