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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

This week's roundup brings news of troubled times for a number of major UK businesses, including an 80% profits drop for BP, BHS being placed into administration and Scottish Power being hit with an £18 million penalty. We also discuss the new £20 note design, which will feature the artist JMW Turner.


BP announces 80% profits drop

BP has revealed it suffered an 80% profits fall in the first three months of 2016. The oil giant reported a $485 million (£334 million) loss for the quarter, citing low oil prices for the drop. Indeed, prices touched a near 13-year low during the period.

The company said it would further reduce capital spending following the announcement, and has lowered its spending target for 2016 to $17 billion. Should oil prices remain weak, this marker could be reduced even more, to between $15 billion and $17 billion.

BP is hopeful crude prices will recover later in the year and the cost reductions should enable it to balance its books. Shares in the company on the London Stock Exchange were 3% higher in early morning trading on Tuesday. 

BHS placed into administration

Following years of decline, department stores group BHS was placed into administration on Monday. Around 11,000 jobs have been put at risk following the move, while the company - once one of the UK's major retail chains - could be in danger of disappearing from the high street altogether.

BHS was famously sold by retail entrepreneur Sir Philip Green to Retail Acquisitions Ltd for just £1 last year. It now has debts of more than £1.3 billion, which includes £571 million in pension liabilities.

Administrators were called in following unsuccessful talks over the weekend to sell some of BHS's 164 UK stores to Sports Direct. 

Scottish Power faces £18m fine for customer service failings   

Customer service failings have resulted in Scottish Power being hit with an £18 million penalty. The fine, which will be paid to vulnerable customers and charity, was imposed by energy regulator Ofgem after it identified inadequacies in relation to complaint resolution, call handling and billing, with more than 300,000 customers receiving late bills.

Dermot Nolan, Chief Executive of Ofgem, explained many of Scottish Power's problems sprung from the implementation of a new IT system. He said: "When things went wrong, it didn't act quickly enough to fix them. This created frustration and worry for many customers, who also wasted a lot of time trying to contact the supplier by phone." 

JMW Turner to feature on new £20 note design

The new Bank of England £20 note, which will enter circulation in 2020, will feature English Romantic artist JMW Turner, it has been revealed. The note will eventually replace the current £20 note, which features the economist Adam Smith.

The new design is of particular interest because it is the first time the figure has been chosen from a list of public nominations. It will also feature Turner's painting The Fighting Temeraire. Turner was selected from a shortlist of five figures; the others being sculptor Barbara Hepworth, designer Josiah Wedgwood, painter William Hogarth and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin.