OIL giant BP followed rival Shell by seeing profits halve last year — but they still came in at a huge £11billion, it revealed yesterday.

Lower prices meant the figure was well below 2022’s record £22.1billion, but it was higher than in any of the previous ten years.

BP followed rival Shell by seeing profits halve last year — but they still came in at a huge £11billion

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BP followed rival Shell by seeing profits halve last year — but they still came in at a huge £11billionCredit: Reuters

Shell posted a similar slump last week, but it is still raking in more than at any time in its history.

BP also surprised the market with better-than- expected figures for last year’s final quarter and shares rose 5.46 per cent.

Boss Murray Auchincloss, who replaced Bernard Looney last year, hailed 2023 as a strong year and BP raised its dividend by 10 per cent to 7.27 cents.

But critics hit out.

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Campaign group Global Witness said BP’s “reckless shareholder payouts” of £10billion last year could cover the projected cost of natural disasters for the next seven years in the UK.

Think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research accused BP of prioritising shareholders “over investing in the green transition”.

Mr Auchincloss responded: “We are very happy with the direction of travel, and the shareholders at the top tier are happy as well.”

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said the latest profits beat expectations, giving the new boss “a solid start”.

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Mr Mould added: “A big share buyback is also helping to get investors onside, as he demonstrates his commitment to returning cash to shareholders.”

Home cover bills soar

THE cost of home insurance jumped by a fifth, or £59, at the end of 2023.

The average price paid for combined home and buildings insurance was £364 in the last three months of the year.

The cost of home insurance jumped by a fifth, or £59, at the end of 2023

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The cost of home insurance jumped by a fifth, or £59, at the end of 2023

That was up from £305 in 2022, says the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

It said £352million is being paid out to people whose homes were damaged by Storms Babet, Ciaran and Debi.

The start of this year has also seen a surge in burst pipe claims.

Insurers blamed higher premiums on the rising costs of raw building materials and labour.

The ABI said: “Insurers are committed to doing all they can to offer competitively-priced home insurance.”

Women in 19year slog

WOMEN need to work for an extra 19 years to retire with the same pension savings as men, shocking new figures reveal.

A report says females retire on average with pension savings of £69,000, compared with £205,000 for men.

Women need to work for an extra 19 years to retire with the same pension savings as men

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Women need to work for an extra 19 years to retire with the same pension savings as menCredit: Getty

That leaves women with £136,000 less, even though they are likely to need more because they will probably live longer.

Women are hit by career gaps, caring duties, childcare costs and lower earnings.

The report, by the Pensions Policy Institute and Now: Pensions, calls on changes to allow women with multiple jobs or who work part-time to be offered a workplace pension.

It also demands that females who take time out to care for children or other relatives be given the chance to “top up” their pensions when they can.

Scottish Widows’ Jackie Leiper said: “Far more needs to be done to tackle the gender pension gap.”

Virgin no more

HIGH street bank Virgin Money UK closed 39 branches in the last three months as it targets £200million of savings.

It also raised provisions for bad debts to nearly £640million, as more customers fell behind on credit card repayments.

In further woes, mortgage lending dipped 2.2 per cent to £57.1billion in the three months to December.

But boss David Duffy stayed positive, saying: “We are encouraged by customers’ resilience and improving sentiment in the mortgage market as interest rates have peaked.”


THE sale of NatWest to the public could happen as soon as June.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the offer is his autumn statement.

The Treasury now owns less than 35% of the bank, worth about £7billion, after a 2008 bailout.


UBS wields axe

SWISS banking giant UBS plans to increase its cost cutting by at least 25 per cent after losses deepened.

A savings target of £8billion has been upped to £10.4billion after problems resulting from last year’s mega-merger with crisis-hit rival Credit Suisse.

Three thousand jobs are being axed and, in the quarter to December, losses hit £598million compared to a £1.5billion profit the year before.

Boss Sergio Ermotti said: “We will focus on restructuring and optimising the combined businesses.”

Big deals not such a big deal

BIG business deals fell dramatically last year, with the number of mergers and acquisitions almost a fifth lower than they were 12 months earlier.

PwC analysis shows 3,628 deals completed in 2023, compared to 4,362 the previous year.

The volume of activity in the second half was the second lowest in the last five years, with only the first half of 2020 lower, when dealmaking was severely hit by the pandemic.

One of last year’s biggest deals was the £534million takeover of Hotel Chocolat by confectionery giant Mars, announced in November.

The total value of deals done last year was £88billion, down 41 per cent on the almost £150billion-worth in 2022.

But cautious optimism is beginning to grow as economic conditions stabilise.

Lucy Stapleton, head of deals at PwC UK, said: “There is still an appetite for deals.”

Red Sea’s cost pain

THE UK’s construction sector remains under pressure as the disruption in the Red Sea sends shipping prices higher.

Increased fees for imported items has contributed to a rise in firms’ overall cost burden, according to the latest S&P Global/CIPS construction purchasing managers’ index.

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“House building is the weakest-performing category,” S&P’s Tim Moore said.

But firms’ optimism is at a two-year high amid hopes that the worst is over for them.

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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