* Aims to cut debt by 1.3 billion euros in 2017
* Targets capex of 3.6 bln euros vs 3.9 bln euros initial
* CEO says "comfortable" with keeping dividend stable
(Recasts with details on cost cuts, Capex, shares)
By Julien Toyer and Jose Elías Rodríguez
MADRID, Feb 23 Spanish oil major Repsol
said it would keep its dividend and investment spending stable
in 2017 and pursue cost cuts to reduce debt by a further 16
percent this year.
Repsol Chief Executive Josu Jon Imaz said he was comfortable
with leaving the dividend at the same level as last year when
Repsol had taken the painful decision to cut it by 20 percent to
protect its credit rating.
"I think it was a good compromise between the financial
commitments and the balance sheet of the company and the
retribution to our shareholders," Imaz told a conference call
Europe's fifth-largest refiner by market value is now aiming
for a debt figure of 6.8 billion euros ($7.2 billion) by the end
of the year, down from 8.1 billion euros at the end of 2016 and
around 12 billion euros a year earlier.
Oil companies have been forced to cut costs hard following
the start of an oil price rout in 2014.
Repsol said it would hit a cost cuts target of 2.1 billion
euros in 2017, a year early, and divest assets for a total value
of 600 million euros.
Those efforts have restored short-term profitability, with
the cash break-even stabilising at around $40 per barrel.
Larger major BP this month raised the oil price at
which it can balance its books this year to $60 a barrel due to
higher spending following a string of investments.
Helped by one-off currency hedging gains, Repsol posted a
3.8 percent rise in 2016 adjusted net profit to 1.92 billion
euros, with the upstream production division returning to
profits while the downstream refining unit kept performing well
amid a Spanish economic recovery.
Shares in Repsol were up 2.1 percent to 14.01 euros at 1450
GMT, outperforming European peers as well as Spain's blue-chip
Annual capital expenditure is expected at around 3.6 billion
euros at group level, compared to 3.2 billion euros in 2016 and
an initial annual target for 3.9 billion euros in 2016 and 2017.
Last year Repsol paid a 0.76 euro per share dividend
against 2015 earnings, in two instalments. So far this year it
has paid an initial 0.335 euro per share dividend against 2016
The dividends are paid on a scrip basis which allows
shareholders to choose between receiving cash or shares in the
company. In January, around 80 percent of them chose the shares
over the cash.
($1 = 0.9458 euros)
(Editing by Keith Weir)