Shell to sell more assets

Royal Dutch Shell would step up disposals and seek to return a greater share of earnings to investors, the Anglo-Dutch oil company said yesterday as it posted fourth-quarter profits in line with its downgraded forecast. Earlier this month the oil major issued a “significant” profit warning for the three months to December, detailing across-the-board problems just weeks into the tenure of new chief executive 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 yesterday. On a current cost of supply basis fourth-quarter earnings excluding identified items came in at $2.9 billion (R33bn), making the quarter its least profitable for five years. – Reuters


New Johnson Matthey boss

Catalyst maker Johnson Matthey appointed a new chief executive yesterday and was positive on its second-half outlook after reporting a 16 percent rise in third-quarter profit thanks to tighter vehicle emissions rules in Europe. Neil Carson, who has been serving as chief executive for a decade, will step down at the British speciality chemicals firm after results in June and Robert MacLeod, who joined the firm as finance director in 2009, will succeed him. It said its outlook had improved, boosted by a better performance at its emission control technology unit, which focuses on autocatalysts. – Reuters