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Franco-Nevada boosts dividend as loss widens

TORONTO, March 20 (Reuters) - Franco-Nevada Corp, which provides financing to gold miners, raised its dividend even as it reported a wider fourth-quarter loss.

The company said late Wednesday that it planned to switch from a monthly to a quarterly dividend and to raise its effective annual payout to 80 cents a share from 72 cents.

A steep drop in the price of gold and rising costs have cut into gold miners' earnings over the last year, and several have cut their dividends.

But a funding crunch for small and mid-sized miners has given Franco-Nevada and other companies that offer alternative financing to them more opportunities to strike deals.

Franco-Nevada provides streaming deals, in which miners get cash upfront in exchange for agreeing to sell metal to the streaming company at a set price in the future. Royalty payments are usually based on a mine's revenue or profit, and often offered in exchange for capital.

Franco-Nevada's share of production at the mines it is invested in totaled 69,741 gold equivalent ounces in the fourth quarter, up 17.5 percent from a year earlier.

The company said its net loss widened to $80.6 million, or 55 cents a share, from $33.1 million, or 23 cents a share.

Excluding impairment charges and other unusual items, earnings fell to 21 cents a share from 32 cents.

(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)