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Reuters: Total declines comment on Shell report

Reuters: Total declines comment on Shell report

Mon 16 August, 2004 07:37

PARIS (Reuters) – Total has declined comment on a report in The Observer that said executives at Royal Dutch/Shell were concerned about a potential takeover bid from the French oil group.

The paper said a tie-up between the two groups was “the subject of fevered speculation”, but did not cite any sources and said there were no indications that board members or advisers had spoken about a combination of the companies.

“We do not comment on rumours,” a spokeswoman for Total said on Monday.

A Shell spokeswoman said: “We cannot comment on market rumour or speculation.”

The paper cited one unnamed oil analyst as saying: “On paper it’s a fit, but it’s not that easy. Who would be in charge would be the major issue.”

Earlier this month, a senior industry source told Reuters that Shell would unify the boards of its Dutch and British holding companies and that the group might consider a full merger of the two, or for one holding company to take over the other.

Currently, Royal Dutch owns 60 percent of the overall group, while Shell Transport & Trading has 40 percent. A review of the company’s corporate governance will be published in November.

In January, Shell disclosed a 20 percent downgrade to its proved oil and gas reserves.

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