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More job cuts at ailing Royal Dutch Shell

Times Online

The Sunday Times

January 31, 2010
By Danny Fortson
PETER VOSER, boss of Royal Dutch Shell, will warn of fresh job cuts this week as he reveals sagging profits at the oil giant. Since taking the top job six months ago Voser has cut 5,000 staff. He warned this weekend that the restructuring “may need to go further” as the company battles falling production and a huge cost base. He added: “As part of that, it may also mean that some more people have to go.”

Analysts expect the group to report a quarterly profit of $2.9 billion (£1.8 billion) on Thursday, a 40% drop over the same period last year. This would take its annual profit to $13.4 billion, down 57% on the $31.4 billion it made in 2008 when the oil price hit a record of $147 a barrel.The results will come in stark contrast to rival BP. Analysts expect it to post a profit of $4.8 billion for the quarter, about 75% better than the same time a year ago. The jump is largely thanks to the overhaul initiated by Tony Hayward since he took over as chief executive in 2006.

Peter Hitchens, analyst at Panmure Gordon, said: “The question is, can Voser turn it round and get Shell going in the right direction? The underlying business is still in decline.”

Voser is carrying out a raft of other cost-cutting measures, including the sale of large swathes of its Nigerian oilfields, a plan revealed in The Sunday Times last month.

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