BP, Kuwait deny report it asked SWF to raise stake KIA owns 1.75 percent of BP shares

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 2, (Agencies): Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund and BP Plc on Monday denied a local newspaper report that the embattled oil giant had asked the fund to raise its stake in the company to 3 percent, to fend off potential takeover bids. “The Kuwait Investment Authority did not receive an offer from BP to increase its stake,” KIA said in a statement. “There is no truth in this story. It’s a rumour and speculation,” BP spokeswoman Sheila Williams said in a statement. Kuwaiti newspaper al-Anba had quoted an unnamed fund official as saying that BP’s outgoing chief executive, Tony Hayward, made the request in a telephone call to the fund which owns 1.75 percent of BP.

Anba reported that Hayward said the move was part of an effort to fend off takeover bids by other international oil companies following BP’s devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The report said Kuwait, the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter, had no intention of exiting its investment in BP. Last month, another Kuwaiti daily reported that Kuwait may buy some of BP’s Middle East and Asian assets including oil fields in Egypt and Yemen, as the company seeks to raise billions of dollars to cover costs resulting from its massive US oil spill.

Elsewhere, British oil giant BP has no plans to sell its German fuel station unit Aral, a company spokeswoman said on Monday, flatly denying a weekend press report. BP, which suffered a record second-quarter loss due to the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill, revealed last week that it will seek to raise $30 billion (23 billion euros) over the next 18 months. German magazine Wirtschaftswoche reported on Saturday that cash-strapped BP was looking to offload Aral for at least two billion euros.

Wirtschaftswoche cited unnamed investment bankers as saying that potential buyers of Germany’s leading petrol station network with 2,500 outlets included France’s Total, European rival Avia and Russia’s Rosneft.
A BP spokeswoman said on Monday that Aral remains a core operation within the group. BP chief executive Tony Hayward resigned last week, following a string of gaffes as the public face of the firm, in its three-month fight to stop oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. The group also said it was putting aside more than 32 billion dollars to cover the cost of the spill, and reported a second-quarter loss of $16.9 billion — a quarterly record for a British company.

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