March 23, 2020 / 9:15 PM / 6 days ago

Lundin Petroleum cuts dividend by 44% as oil price falls, virus spreads

OSLO, March 23 (Reuters) - Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum has cut its proposed dividend for 2019 as it seeks to hold on to more cash to offset crashing oil prices and uncertainty over the coronavirus outbreak, the energy company said on Monday.

The board slashed the proposed payout to $1 per share, corresponding to $284 million, from a previous plan of paying $1.8 per share, or $511 million, ahead of a March 31 shareholder vote.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak the company’s board members and executives will attend the annual general meeting of shareholders via video link, while owners were encouraged to vote via proxies, Lundin said.

Shareholders still seeking to attend the meeting in person will be subject to a health screening, it added.

Oil industry peer Aker BP said earlier on Monday the company’s ambition to pay dividends remained firm, but its board still had to asses the impact on the balance sheet and liquidity from the coronavirus and oil price fall.

Norway’s largest oil and gas firm Equinor said on Sunday it had suspended its ongoing $5 billion share buyback programme due to the same factors.

North Sea oil was trading well below $30 a barrel on Monday, after falling by about 60% since the beginning of the year amid a drop in demand and rising supply. (Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, editing by Terje Solsvik and Tom Brown)

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