The reduction is a 66% drop in the dividend’s value and is the first time the company has reduced its dividend since 1945, according to the Wall Street Journal. Decreasing the dividend is an unprecedented move within industry and other oil companies have not followed suit. BP increased its dividend in February and has not decreased it. Additionally, rather than reduce its dividend, Exxon Mobil announced a dividend freeze on Wednesday.
“It’s also not wise or prudent or even responsible to pay out a dividend if you know for sure that you have to borrow for it, deplete your liquidity and, at the same time of course, also reduce the resilience in a world that is going to be totally unpredictable for some time to come,” Ben van Beurden, Shell’s Chief Executive, said.
The drop in dividend will hurt individual and institutional investors alike. For example, the U.K.’s pension invests in Shell, which will result in decreased cash flow for the pension fund. However, others believe that lowering the dividend will also provide Shell flexibility in the future when the pandemic lifts and the sector is further rocked by an energy transition.