BP shares rise on asset sale and takeover rumours
BP shares rose sharply Monday amid the prospect of forthcoming asset sales and speculation about a possible hostile takeover bid from US rival ExxonMobil, dpa reported.
BP's share price climbed by more than 8 per cent on the London stock market Monday to reach its highest level in a month. In late afternoon, shares traded at 396.2 pence, an increase of 30 per cent since the end of June, but still just 40 per cent of its pre-crisis quotation of around 680 pence.
Analysts have described the 400-pence mark as a psychological breakthrough point for the battered oil giant.
Reports at the weekend suggested that Exxon, the world's biggest company, had sought clearance from the White House for a takeover move.
Neither Exxon nor BP have commented on the alleged move, reported in the Sunday Times.
Meanwhile, BP was focusing its efforts on major asset sales in preparation for a "defence strategy" to be unveiled in London at the end of this month, a spokesman said.
The company also revealed Monday that the costs to contain the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had risen to 3.5 billion dollars since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20.
Meanwhile, BP was reported to be nearing agreement with investors on asset sales with a stated goal of 10 billion dollars to help prop up the funding for the oil spill disaster.
Reports said BP was in negotiations with the US-based Apache Corporation over the sale of a string of assets, including a stake in Alaska's giant Prudhoe Bay oil field.
Other assets on the table included BP's stakes in Argentinian oil producer Pan American Energy, as well as business interests in Venezuela, Colombia and Vietnam, reports said.
The search for potential buyers and investors has taken BP chief executive Tony Hayward to Russia and a string of Middle Eastern countries recently.
He is reported to have solicited investment from sovereign wealth funds in oil-rich nations, led by Kuwait, a long-standing shareholder in BP.
Meanwhile, BP said Monday that efforts to fit a replacement cap over the leaking pipe on the Gulf-of-Mexico gusher were proceeding as planned.
It hoped that the drilling of two relief wells - which would be used to cut off the oil flow altogether - would be completed in early August.
"Although uncertainty still exists, the first half of August remains the current estimate of the most likely date by which the first relief well will be completed and kill operations performed," said a statement Monday.