BP Open to Abu Dhabi Stake


DUBAI—BP PLC’s Chief Executive Tony Hayward met this week with Abu Dhabi’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and would be open to seeing the oil-rich sheikdom buy a stake of up to 10% stake in the U.K. oil giant, a person with knowledge of the meeting told Zawya Dow Jones.

Mr. Hayward flew into Abu Dhabi on Tuesday for meetings with officials including the crown prince and also spoke to the company’s employees in the emirate in a town-hall gathering, according to a person familiar with his itinerary. “He’d be happy for Abu Dhabi to take a 10% equity stake,” said the person, who asked not to be identified.

Sheila Williams, a spokeswoman for BP in London, declined to comment on specific meetings but said Mr. Hayward “is visiting key business partners as well as staff.” BP is currently struggling to cap an oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

A spokesman for the crown prince was unreachable for comment. A spokesman for the federal government in Abu Dhabi said he had no knowledge of the meetings.

BP on Tuesday week moved to douse speculation that it was looking for an investor to buy a large piece of the company, saying it wouldn’t issue new stock to raise money to cover the costs of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Libya’s top oil official, Shokri Ghanem, said Monday that BP was a bargain and recommended that the nation’s sovereign wealth fund invest in the oil giant.

BP shares last traded 43% higher. The U.K. oil giant’s stock has lost almost half its value since the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion on April 20 that triggered the spill.

BP said it captured about 24,980 barrels of crude from the underwater gusher on Monday, indicating that oil-recovery efforts have stabilized after high seas hindered its efforts late last week.

The company potentially faces tens of billions of dollars of liabilities related to the spill. BP has so far spent $3.12 billion on cleanup, containment and compensation, and has promised to pay a further $20 billion into an independently administered fund to cover future liabilities over the next 3 ½ years.

Separately, a BP spokesman said the company hasn’t agreed to demands that it notify the U.S. Department of Justice at least 30 days ahead of any significant financial or asset transactions.

The company has received letter from the Department of Justice making this demand, but hasn’t yet responded, the spokesman said. The letter asked BP to inform U.S. justice officials before “any planned or contemplated events that may involve substantial transfers of cash or other corporate assets outside of the ordinary course of business,” U.K. newspaper The Times reported Wednesday.

U.S. authorities should also be told of any “corporate restructuring, reorganization, acquisitions, mergers, joint ventures, sales, divestments or disbursements,” the letter said.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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