BP posts highest profit in over 10 years as calls for windfall tax grow

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4th May 2022

Bite-sized business news from the UK and beyond
Good morning How long would work for one company? For millennials (those aged 25-40) the average figure is 2 years and 9 months. But Brazilian Walter Orthmann has taken company loyalty to a whole new level. The 100-year-old started working at a Brazilian textile company at age 15. Now, over 84 years later, he's earned the Guinness World Record for longest tenure at the same company.
Today's stories
  • Heating up – BP posts highest profit in over 10 years as calls for windfall tax grow
  • Arm twisting – Boris Johnson woos chipmaker to London listing
BP posts highest profit in over 10 years as calls for windfall tax grow

What happened
In the first three months of this year BP recorded a net profit of $6.25bn -  double the same period last year and its best in over a decade - thanks to high oil and gas prices.

But it wasn’t all good news
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine BP is selling its 20% stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft. This sale led to a $24bn hit to profits and overall loss in the quarter of $20.3bn.

There are now growing calls for a windfall tax on energy companies
The oil and gas industry has been a huge beneficiary of the soaring energy prices in the past year. Wholesale gas prices are four times higher than a year ago and after plummeting to $20 in the first lockdown, oil prices have rebounded to $100 a barrel. With inflation at a 30-year-high, due in large part to high energy prices, many people are calling for a one-off tax on energy company profits that can be used to help households struggling to pay their bills.

But not everyone agrees
While it may seem like a no-brainer to redistribute cash from one area of the economy to another, BP and oil experts insists that it’s not that simple and won’t solve the underlying issue in the global energy markets. 

BP says that to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, major investment and not taxation, is needed in renewable industries.

Oil and gas companies already pay a higher tax rate than other sectors and due to their global operations, they pay taxes in several countries not just the UK. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a windfall tax would hamper investment and keep oil prices higher over the long term. But the chancellor Rishi Sunak has suggested that he would consider a windfall tax if energy companies didn’t invest enough in renewable energy.
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Boris Johnson woos chipmaker to London listing

What happened
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has thrown his support behind a government bid to persuade chip designer Arm to choose London instead of New York when it returns to the stock market in the next year.

How did we get here
Arm designs rather than manufactures chips -  the essential components in the “brain” of every electronic device in the world. Its designs are core to most of the world’s smartphones and it's growing its presence in computing competing with the likes of Intel. It’s widely viewed as one of the most successful British tech exports.

Arm used to be publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange until it was bought by Japanese tech giant Softbank in 2016.

Last year Softbank accepted an offer from US chipmaker Nvidia to buy Arm for close for $75bn. But in February the takeover was shelved after months of opposition from competition regulators in the US, UK, EU, Australia and China. 

Following that disappointment Softbank said it would instead look to take Arm public on the New York Stock Exchange - much to the dismay of the British government and Daily Mail which has launched a campaign to get it floated in London.

Why is the government keen to have Arm listed in London
If a tech company based and founded in the UK was to choose New York over London it would be a kick in the teeth for the British government.  Post Brexit the UK has been trying to position itself as a major player in the high growth global tech sector, but a lack of publicly listed tech firms has weakened its credibility.

Softbank is said to favour New York as companies listed on the tech heavy NASDAQ exchange typically fetch a higher valuation.

In a last-ditch effort, executives from the London Stock Exchange and the government's digital minister are due to meet Softbank management in the coming weeks, with Boris Johnson having written to the company as part of the effort.
Stat of the day

About 59% of adults in Europe are overweight or obese, according to a new World Health Organisation report 
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