The board of directors of BellSouth (NYSE: BLS) have approved a dividend of 25 cents per common share, an 8.7 percent increase from the previous level of 23 cents.

Over the last seven quarters, BellSouth has increased its quarterly dividend 31.6 percent from 19 cents per common share to 25 cents.

The fourth-quarter dividend is payable Feb. 2, 2004, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Jan. 8, 2004.

BellSouth has nearly 1.9 billion shares outstanding in approximately 800,000 registered shareholder accounts.

This is the 80th consecutive quarterly dividend declared by Atlanta-based BellSouth.