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Exxon or Shell should buy BP for £88bn, says analyst

Daily Telegraph: BP’S share price fell by a further 2pc, after a prominent City expert suggested it should be bought by US rival Exxon Mobil in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

By Rowena Mason, Energy Correspondent
30 June 2010

A sea turtle covered in oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill swimming off the Grand Terre Island.

Fred Lucas, an energy analyst at JP Morgan Cazenove, speculated that Exxon or Shell could swoop on the beleagured British oil giant for approximately £88bn. Exxon is the most financially strong oil company, he said, adding that it could make a cash and stock offer while spinning off $50bn (£33bn) of refining and marketing assets.

“We must emphasise,” Mr Lucas adds in the note, “that this is our idea and it is only an idea.”

The mooted 473p offer price is 30pc less than the £123bn the company was worth before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded killing 11 men and triggering a catastrophic leak on April 20. However, it is substantially more than the current £57bn market value of the oil giant, which has slipped from Britain’s biggest company to the fifth behind Shell, HSBC, Vodafone and GlaxoSmithKline.

BP has already spent $2.65bn on the clean-up and committed $20bn to environmental compensation. The cost of additional lawsuits, pay-outs to Gulf Coast residents and punitive fines are likely to add many more billions to these bills.

BP’s share price slipped 2pc to 302.9p yesterday, at one point dipping below the symbolic 300p mark, after weather forecasters warned that an area of tropical depression would turn into Hurricane Alex. The bad weather is already hampering efforts to capture oil coming from the leak and operations to clean up the growing slick off the southern US coast.

Oil skimming ships were sent back to Louisiana amid strong winds and big waves – although the storm itself will not hit the affected region. On Monday, BP said its plan to increase oil being captured has been delayed, but current equipment piping oil to the surface remains in place.

However, operations continued nearer to shore with a plan to remove up to 800 unhatched turtle eggs to protect the sea creatures from the effects of the oil.

Earlier in the day, a Facebook group calling on people to boycott oil from BP service stations was removed from the social networking website but later reinstated. It grew in size to almost 750,000 members after people thought the site was being censored.

Although BP claims it has only noticed a slight downturn in US sales, local petrol retailers claim the company is planning to give them financial relief of up to $70m in total.

The head of a trade group that represents distributors of BP gasoline in the US said the company is informing outlets that they will be getting cash, reductions in credit card fees and help with more national advertising. John Kleine of the BP Amoco Marketers Association said: “They are going to get a cheque. They’re being given these dollars for use in their business.”

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