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Debt levels hit record £391bn as companies ramp up payouts

1 JULY 2018 • 9:14PM

Companies racked up a record £391bn of debt in the face of demand from investors to step up dividends and as bosses went hunting for deals.

The overall level of debt for UK plc in the 2017-18 financial year far surpassed pre-crisis levels of £286bn, according to the Debt Monitor report published by Link Asset Services UK today.

Among the heavy borrowers, oil giants BP and Royal Dutch Shell accounted for £1 in every £7 of all UK companies’ net debts last year.

Both firms responded to the oil price collapse in 2015 by embarking on deep restructurings, taking on additional debt to fund operations and maintain dividend payouts.

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