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U.K. declines comment on BP contingency plan


By Laurence Norman: July 6, 2010

LONDON (MarketWatch) — U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman declined to comment Tuesday on a report that government departments were preparing a contingency plan in case of the collapse of U.K. oil giant, BP PLC.

Asked about a report in the Times, suggesting the Treasury and the Business department were drawing up contingency plans, the spokesman said; “If they are happening, we would never comment on them”.

He also declined to comment on whether the government would have any concerns if a sovereign wealth fund were looking to take a stake in the company.

Prime Minister Cameron and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne are set to discuss BP’s future with U.S. officials during a July 20 trip to Washington, the Times reported.

On Monday, BP’s shares marched higher, gaining 3.5% after Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya’s National Oil Co. said he will recommend that the Libyan Investment Authority, the North African state’s sovereign-wealth fund, buy shares in BP.

Given the rising costs related to the spill–already topping $3 billion–BP could benefit from a strategic investment by a sovereign-wealth fund. Such an investment might also ease its path to raising the $20 billion it has pledged to a fund for spill claims.

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