Shell to cut spending and step up disposals in 2014

by Reuters
Thursday, 30 January 2014 07:31 GMT

LONDON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Anglo-Dutch oil company Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday said it would step-up disposals and cut spending as it seeks to win back investors with a new focus on returns, less than two weeks after a shock profit warning.

Shell, the world's no. 3 investor owned oil company, earlier this month issued a "significant" profit warning for the quarter to the end of December, detailing across-the-board problems just weeks into the tenure of new boss Ben van Beurden.

"Our overall strategy remains robust, but 2014 will be a year where we are changing emphasis, to improve our returns and cash flow performance," van Beurden said in a statement.

Capital spending will fall to $37 billion this year from $46 billion in 2013, Shell said, adding that for the time being it was also scrapping a controversial exploration programme in Alaska.

The company said it would increase the pace of asset sales, targeting disposals of $15 billion this year.

"We are making hard choices in our world-wide portfolio to improve Shell's capital efficiency", van Beurden said.

To woo investors, it plans to raise its first quarter dividend by 4 percent compared with the same period last year to $0.47 per share, in a move which it said reflected its confidence in its ability to boost free cash flow.

Fourth quarter earnings excluding identified items and on a current cost of supply basis came in at $2.9 billion, in line with a downgraded profit expectation it gave on Jan. 17, and making the quarter its least profitable for five years.