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BP getting ready to fight off a hostile takeover

BP’s £6bn sale to fight takeover amid boardroom cull that could see chairman axed

By Mail Online Reporter
Last updated at 12:08 PM on 5th July 2010

Clean-up bill for ecological disaster now past £2billion mark

BP plans to sell £6billion in shares to raise capital following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The move comes as it prepares for a boardroom shake-up that is expected to see its scandal-hit chairman forced out of a job. Swedish-born Carl-Henric Svanberg is likely to leave the oil giant along with beleaguered British chief executive Tony Hayward after the disastrous spill is capped.

Slick: Two people walk over a pool of oil on the beach at Gulf Shores, Alabama

Both men are expected to step down next month after BP completes drilling on a relief well, which is hoped will stop oil gushing from the Deepwater Horizon rig into the Gulf of Mexico.

The company is believed to be sounding out sovereign wealth funds  –  state-owned investment funds  –  to take a stake of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent.

The aim would be to raise £6billion to fight off a hostile takeover from other companies circling BP. Shareholders are worried about a bid because BP shares have fallen in value by 50 per since the spill on April 20.

They are said to want the boardroom cull in the wake of the disaster, which has so far cost the company more than £2billion and damaged its worldwide reputation.

But BP shares were up 2 per cent today in a welcome move after hefty falls again last week.

Mr Svanberg, 58, is said to be the main target of shareholders, who are angry at his lack of leadership and failure fully to support Mr Hayward.

His removal is now seen as the first step on the path to reestablish the company’s reputation, which has been battered since the spill on April 20.

Last week it was reported that Mr Svanberg took his married lover Louise Julian, 51, on a cruise on his 77ft yacht as America’s worst environmental disaster unfolded.

Shareholders are said to be furious about the ‘tittle tattle’ surrounding Mr Svanberg.

‘Mr Svanberg does not command the total support of shareholders,’ one told the Financial Times.

He also remained in the shadows for much of the fall out from the spill until he was summoned to the White House for a meeting with President Barack Obama last month.

After agreeing to deposit £13.5billion into a compensation fund and postpone a dividend payout to shareholders he made a PR gaffe by referring to those affected by the spill as ‘small people’.

It was alleged he was been invisible while Mr Hayward, 53, who earns £3million a year, was vilified in the U.S. BP hopes to stall any opportunistic bid by the management shake-up.

‘When this is over there will be a full investigation, and we would expect action to replace the top team,’ a leading UK shareholder told the Financial Times. Bob Dudley, BP’s managing director for the Americas and Asia, is tipped as a likely successor to Mr Hayward.

Another American, Chip Goodyear, former chief executive of BHP Billiton, is thought to be favoured to replace Mr Svanberg.

The company is considering selling part of all of its 60 per cent stake in Latin American oil and gas group Pan American Energy. That could bring in as much as £6billion.

City analysts have suggested that the company should look at the idea of selling new shares to an investor in order to shore up its finances.

BP yesterday refused to comment on possible boardroom changes or fund-raising. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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