Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s board of directors has approved a new $15 billion share repurchase program, the firm announced Friday.

Wal-Mart chief executive Mike Duke said the company was “committed returning value to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends” noting the company has repurchased about $21 billion worth of shares in the past five years.

The company says it will pay shareholders more than $4.2 billion in dividends through fiscal year 2010. The company is currently paying an annual dividend of $1.09 per share. Its fiscal 2009 sales were $401 billion.

The repurchased shares will be retired and returned to unissued status, the company said. The new program replaces a previous $15 billion program authorized on June 1, 2007, which still had $3.4 billion of remaining authorization.