Asia and strong pound hit Castrol

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The Independent Online
Asia and strong pound hit Castrol

INTERIM PROFITS at Burmah Castrol fell 2 per cent as a stronger pound and weaker sales' growth in Asia undercut a global rise in its sales of Castrol-brand motor oils. The world's biggest maker of motor oils for passenger cars said its profits fell from pounds 68.6m to pounds 67.1m before one- time gains during the first half of this year. Stripping away the affects of the sterling, which it estimated cost it pounds 14m, Burmah said its profit would have risen 9 per cent after taxes.

None the less, Tim Stevenson, the chief executive, said Burmah was still committed to expanding in Asia, especially China, which offers "tremendous scale and potential for growth". "If we could turn China into another India, there is the opportunity for some massive growth," he added. In India, Burmah's Castrol brand has market share of around 20 per cent. Burmah also announced a 14p dividend and confirmed its intention to return at least pounds 250m to shareholders after April 1999.