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Eni lifts investor rewards after net profit jumps

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·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Italian energy company Eni is seen at a gas station in Rome, Italy
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By Francesca Landini

MILAN (Reuters) -Italian energy group Eni on Friday doubled its share buyback plan for this year and approved a new share purchase programme for 2023 after reporting a jump in profits in the second quarter on the back of soaring oil prices.

Eni's move follows similar action by Shell and TotalEnergies, which extended share buybacks on Thursday after their second-quarter profits beat an already record-breaking previous quarter.

Eni said adjusted net profit in the period came in at 3.8 billion euros from 0.93 billion euros a year ago, beating a 3.27 billion euro consensus.

The adjusted cashflow before working capital at replacement cost reached 10.8 billion euros in the first half, more than double compared with the same period of last year.

"Based on these robust results and our updated market outlook, we are enhancing shareholders' distribution by raising the 2022 share buyback to 2.4 billion euros," Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said in a statement.

The previous target for 2022 share purchase plan was set at 1.1 billion euros.

The group also approved a new buyback programme for a minimum of 1.1 billion euros with a possible upside of up to 2.5 billion euros for 2023.

NEW GAS DEALS

Shares in the group were up 3.3% in early trading, outperforming a 1.5% gain in the Milan blue-chip index.

Eni, whose main shareholder is the Italian state, is one of the biggest wholesale buyers of Russian gas.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the group moved quickly to secure alternative energy supplies and clinched new gas agreements in Algeria, Congo and Egypt earlier this year. In June it entered the North Field East venture in Qatar, part of the world's largest LNG project.

The group now expects Brent crude oil price at $105 a barrel on average this year compared with a previous forecast of $90 a barrel. As a consequence it lifted its guidance for adjusted cash flow before working capital at replacement cost to 20 billion euros.

The group still intends to list its retail and renewables business Plenitude on the Milan stock exchange after postponing its IPO in late June but it did not specify when. ($1 = 0.9793 euros)

(Reporting by Francesca Landini; editing by Carmel Crimmins and Keith Weir)

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