McDonald's Corp said on Thursday its board of directors raised the world's biggest hamburger chain's quarterly cash dividend almost 15 percent to 70 cents per share.

The dividend will be payable on December 15, to shareholders of record at the close of business on December 1.

Today's announced dividend increase brings our 2011 expected total cash return to shareholders to about $6 billion through dividends and share repurchases, McDonald's Chief Executive Jim Skinner said in a statement.

McDonald's, one of the top-performing U.S. restaurant operators, has raised its dividend every year since paying its first dividend in 1976.

The new quarterly dividend of 70 per share is equivalent to $2.80 annually. The company's prior cash dividend was 61 cents per share, or $2.44 annually.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein; editing by Andre Grenon)