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They couldn’t be sure of Shell

Times Online

From The Times
February 5, 2010

In his fascinating new book about his life and long career at BP, Lord Browne reveals he had talks with Jeroen van der Veer in 2004 about a merger with Shell.

The idea was to combine the two companies and to dispose of all BP’s refining and marketing operations. Lord Browne says it seemed “so obviously right to me and the executive team”.

But some BP directors took a different view and the proposal was never discussed by the board.

In retrospect, such a deal would not have addressed the key challenge both companies now face — access to reserves. And while Lord Browne says it would have yielded cost savings of $9 billion, results from both companies this week have shown there was huge scope for efficiency savings even without a merger.

Lord Browne’s book also details the extraordinary story of BP’s expansion in Russia. And in a frank and moving extract we will publish tomorrow, he reveals how he was forced to step down early after lying to a court about his private life.

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