Aberdeen's Wood to tackle energy transition head on after 'resilient' 2020

Wood, the Aberdeen-headquartered energy and engineering services group, is to simplify its global operations and hammer down on costs as it tackles the “accelerating pace of energy transition”.

Chief executive Robin Watson - 'our resilient financial performance in 2020 was underpinned by our strategic positioning across broad end markets and flexible business model'

The FTSE-250 firm outlined its strategy as it reported a 23.5 per cent decline in full-year revenues to just over $7.56 billion (£5.45bn), compared with 2019.

The group is not paying out a final dividend to shareholders after sliding to a $228m loss before tax in 2020 as it was hit by the slide in oil prices last spring and the fallout from the pandemic. Adjusted underlying earnings were down by 26.3 per cent to $630m.

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Chief executive Robin Watson said: “Our resilient financial performance in 2020 was underpinned by our strategic positioning across broad end markets and flexible business model.

“We saw growth in renewables activity, strength in the built environment and relatively robust revenue in process and chemicals and we continued to win work, against the challenging backdrop of Covid-19 and oil price volatility.

“To ensure our business is fit for the accelerating pace of energy transition and the drive towards more sustainable infrastructure, we are announcing programmes to unlock stronger medium-term growth, deliver efficiency and create value.”

Wood also announced that it had reached settlement with Scottish authorities in relation to the historical engagement of Unaoil by a legacy joint venture and potential unlawful conduct. The civil settlement relates to conduct in Kazakhstan in the period between 2008 and 2010.

Watson noted: “The investigation shone a light on behaviour that was quite simply unacceptable. While we didn’t own the business until 2011, we take responsibility for dealing with the consequences and have taken steps to further strengthen our culture and processes to ensure it does not happen again.”

Stuart Lamont, investment manager at wealth managment firm Brewin Dolphin, said: “Wood has swung to a loss for the year, but that only tells half the story – the company has also demonstrated a great deal of resilience, which has seen its share price more than double since this time in 2020. Wood has been a story of debt reduction for some time now.”

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