Oil major Total looking to buy assets, as costs savings lift its profits

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French oil major Total said it is hunting out opportunities to buy plumb assets from struggling rivals after it reported better-than-expected fourth quarter net profits, thanks to costs savings that enabled it to raise its dividend.

Total rewarded shareholders with an increased fourth-quarter dividend of 0.62 euros per share, compared with 0.61 in the previous three quarters, as adjusted net profits rose 16 percent to $2.4 billion in the quarter compared with Q4 2015.

Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne said Total's results "strongly outperform" its peers as the company showed its resilience during a prolonged downturn in oil prices.

Earlier this week, Total's rival BP reported that its annual earnings had fallen for a second consecutive year.

Pouyanne added that Total's strong balance sheet and financial clout meant it could look for opportunities to pick up attractive assets. Total plans to make final investment decisions on about 10 projects within the next 18 months.

"We are in a field of opportunities. We have a good balance sheet and financial means that others do not have," Pouyanne told reporters.

"After two years of very low prices, there are companies around the world that have good assets but are struggling. It is left to us to chose good assets that are of interest to us," he added.

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