May 20, 2020 / 12:13 PM / 5 days ago

Halliburton slashes dividend by 75% in latest move to save cash

(Reuters) - Oilfield services provider Halliburton Co slashed its quarterly dividend by 75% on Wednesday, the latest move by the company to shore up cash to cope with a dramatic plunge in oil prices that began in March.

U.S. oil prices experienced historic drops throughout March and April, brought on by the demand destruction caused by coronavirus-related lockdowns and a price war between producing nations.

As oil and gas explorers slam the brakes on drilling to survive low prices, companies like Halliburton that provide drilling equipment and services have taken a major beating.

Halliburton and larger rivals Schlumberger and Baker Hughes Co posted losses for the first quarter, owing to heavy writedowns on assets on the back of low oil prices.

Each of the three service providers have also slashed their spending plans for the year, with Halliburton’s 50% reduction among the deepest in the industry.

Halliburton has already lowered salaries for the company’s executives and cut roughly 1,000 jobs from its headquarters in Houston as part of a plan to reduce $1 billion of costs.

The company set a dividend of $0.045 per share payable on June 24, down from $0.18 per share paid on March 25.

Schlumberger, the world’s largest services provider, slashed its dividend by 75% last month.

Members of Halliburton’s board also agreed to reduce their annual retainer by 20% on Wednesday.

Halliburton’s shares rose about 3% in premarket trading as U.S. crude oil prices climbed to $32.18 a barrel. Still, both Halliburton’s shares and U.S. crude are at about half of what they began the year at.

Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sweta Singh and Maju Samuel

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