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Total takeover bid for Shell?

London Evening Standard: “Reports at the weekend claimed that Total was keen to take advantage of the lack of confidence in Shell’s management”

Mickey Clark

16 August 2004

CITY traders were doing their level best to play down talk of a £40bn-plus bid for oil giant Shell, up 2 1/4p at 392 3/4p, from its smaller French rival Total.

Reports at the weekend claimed that Total was keen to take advantage of the lack of confidence in Shell’s management following the writedown of around 22% of the group’s oil reserves earlier this year. Shell’s management is said to have conceded that the controversy over the writedown had left it vulnerable to take over.

Bruce Evers at broker Investec Securities said: ‘A bid by Total is not impossible, but it is highly unlikely with too many regulatory issues to overcome.’

He is urging clients to hold on to their shares in Shell. In the meantime, the company is continuing to buy back more of its own shares. On Friday, it bought a further 2.2m at 394p. The rest of the market started the week on a subdued note, reflecting a lacklustre performance by the Dow on Friday.

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