In depth 

Future-proof investments

Future-proof investments

At market’s close on 20 October 2010, oil giant BP’s (BP.) share price was almost exactly a third below where it had been six months previously. In a period when the FTSE 100 index and industry peer Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) were both flat, blame for wiping £41,289m off BP’s value lay squarely with the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. By contrast, following the Exxon Valdez disaster in March 1989, the six-month change in ExxonMobil’s (US:XOM) share price was slightly positive, up 2 per cent. True, it was politically easier for the US government to throw the book at a British company (BP was subject to a record $20.8bn fine) but the difference between the market reaction to events 21 years apart was partly down to hardened attitudes towards companies that damage the environment.

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