repurchases and acquisitions. If acquisition opportunities increase, the Company believes that reasonable financing alternatives are available for the Company to execute on those opportunities.
In December 2016, the Company’s Board of Directors increased the Company’s regular quarterly dividend to $0.36 from $0.33 per share, an increase of 9 percent.
Cash Flow. A summary of cash flow follows (in millions):
Effect of exchange rates on cash
Net cash provided (used)
Cash and cash equivalents at end of year
Cash Flows From Operating Activities. Net cash provided by operating activities was $269 million in 2016, up $79 million compared to 2015. Cash flows from operating activities in 2015 included the effects of increases in inventory and accounts receivable and payments of transaction costs and income taxes related to the sale of Liquid Finishing business assets.
Net cash provided by operating activities was $190 million in 2015, down $51 million compared to 2014, mainly due to transaction costs and income taxes related to the sale of Liquid Finishing business assets. Accounts receivable and inventory balances increased from the end of 2014 due to acquisitions, increases in business activity and inventory increases to improve customer service levels.
Cash Flows Used in Investing Activities. Cash outflows from investing activities totaled $91 million in 2016. The Company used proceeds from its revolving line of credit to acquire two related businesses for a total cash price of $49 million. The acquired businesses enhance and complement the Company’s position in environmental monitoring and remediation markets, and are included in the Process segment.
Cash inflows from investing activities totaled $370 million in 2015 compared to outflows of $217 million in 2014. Proceeds of $610 million from the sale of the Liquid Finishing business assets were partially offset by cash outflows of $189 million for acquisitions and $42 million for additions to property, plant and equipment. In 2014, cash outflows included acquisitions of $185 million and additions to property plant and equipment of $31 million.
Cash Flows Used in Financing Activities. Cash flows used in financing activities totaled $178 million in 2016, compared to $534 million in 2015. Cash outflows in 2016 included dividend payments of $73 million, share repurchases of $50 million (partially offset by proceeds from share issuances of $33 million) and net payments on outstanding lines of credit of $93 million.
Cash flows used in financing activities totaled $534 million in 2015, compared to $24 million in 2014. Cash outflows included net payments on outstanding lines of credit of $211 million, share repurchases of $275 million and dividends paid of $69 million. In 2014, cash inflows included net borrowings on lines of credit of $202 million and share issuances of $30 million. Outflows included share repurchases of $195 million and dividends paid of $66 million.
On April 24, 2015, the Board of Directors authorized the purchase of up to 6 million shares, primarily through open market transactions. The authorization is for an indefinite period of time or until terminated by the Board. Under the authorization, 3.8 million shares remain available for purchase as of December 30, 2016.
The Company repurchased and retired 0.8 million shares in 2016, compared to 3.9 million shares in 2015 and 2.6 million shares in 2014. Share repurchases are expected to continue in 2017 via open market transactions or short-dated accelerated share repurchase (“ASR”) programs.
Subsequent event: On February 21, 2017, the Company entered into an ASR with a financial institution. In exchange for an up-front payment of $90 million, the financial institution will deliver 850,000 shares of Company common stock. The total number of shares ultimately delivered will be determined at the end of the purchase period (up to five months, but not less than two months) based on the volume weighted average price of the Company’s common stock during that period.