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Tuesday 4 August 2020

BP Halves Dividend after Record Loss


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LONDON (Reuters) — BP cut its dividend for the first time in a decade after a record $6.7 bln second-quarter loss, when the coronavirus crisis hammered fuel demand, and it sought to win over investors by speeding up its reinvention as a lower carbon company.

Its shares rose more than 7% on Tuesday after BP unveiled earlier than expected a plan to reduce its oil and gas output by 40% and boost investments in renewable energy, such as wind and solar, over the next decade.

All major oil companies suffered in the second quarter as lockdowns to contain the new coronavirus limited travel and oil prices fell to their lowest in two decades.

Several, including Royal Dutch Shell and Norway’s Equinor, cut their dividend in response.

BP CEO Bernard Looney, who took the helm in February, avoided a dividend cut in the first quarter despite worsening market conditions and as rivals reduced their payouts. But Tuesday’s 50% cut by BP to ¢5.25/share, which was larger than the 40% forecast by analysts, became inevitable given a large debt pile, the collapse in oil and gas demand and growing expectations for a sluggish global economic recovery.

BP’s net loss was in line with analysts’ expectations and was largely a result of the company’s decision to wipe $6.5 bln off the value of oil and gas exploration assets after it revised its price forecasts.

BP recorded total impairments of $17.4 bln, at the upper end of its previous guidance.

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