BUSINESS CLOSE: Shell exits Russian oil; Greggs warns on costs

BUSINESS CLOSE: US and UK to ban Russian oil; Shell heads for the exit too; Greggs warns on costs after record year; M&G reveals buybacks

The FTSE 100 index closed flat, up just 4.63 points to 6,964.11 this afternoon, as oil giant Shell announced it will exit Russian markets.

The UK will phase out the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of the year, the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has announced. 

President Joe Biden also announced the US will ban all Russian oil imports, as Western countries pile pressure on Vladimir Putin to end his invasion of Ukraine.

In company news, Greggs saw record annual profit in 2021, following a pandemic-driven loss in 2020, but the high street baker warned that cost pressures would prevent any material profit growth this year.

Pre-tax profits came in at £145.6million in the year to 1 January, versus a loss of £13.7 million pounds in 2020, as sales jumped 5.3 per cent on pre-pandemic levels to £1.2billion.

British airport services provider John Menzies also returned to an annual profit of £76million last year, as it benefits from cost cuts and new business wins amid a recovery in travel demand.

The company also said talks were ongoing with potential suitor NAS and its Kuwaiti parent company Agility Public Warehousing, which now have until 30 March to make a firm offer for Menzies or walk away.

FTSE 100 fund manager M&G revealed a £500million share buyback programme, which will bring the firm’s payments to shareholders to £1.8billion since it demerged from Prudential in 2019 when combined with dividends.

The bumper buyback scheme comes despite pre-tax operating profits slipping 8.5 per cent in 2021 to £721million, largely as a result of £254million of central corporate and debt costs, which grew in response to ‘adverse foreign exchange movements’.