From: Amena Bakr and Kristen Hays, Reuters
Published July 7, 2010 06:45 AM

BP boss in MidEast talks as relief well advances

BP's boss met officials from an Abu Dhabi state fund on Wednesday as hopes for fresh investment and progress toward closing a leaking U.S. oil well lifted the company's battered shares.

A United Arab Emirates official said Chief Executive Tony Hayward had met officials from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) during a routine visit.

He spoke as speculation mounted of a stake purchase by a Middle East or Asian sovereign wealth fund to help BP ward off takeovers and pay the rising costs of the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

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The UAE official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Hayward's visit was a scheduled one mainly for discussion of BP's concessions with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).

"With the CEO in Abu Dhabi speaking to the sovereign wealth fund to get some investment it's not surprising that there is some enthusiasm in the market for BP shares," said Mic Mills, head of electronic trading at London-based ETX Capital.

BP has said it has no plans to issue new equity to anyone, but bankers say it is on a marketing drive for its stock -- which has fallen by half since the Gulf of Mexico well blew out on April 20.

"This is not part of him traveling the world with a begging bowl asking for equity contributions," a BP spokesman told the UAE's National newspaper. "We are not preparing an equity offering but we're keen that people appreciate the value in BP."

The well being drilled to halt the spill is a week ahead of schedule, the U.S. official overseeing the response to the disaster said on Tuesday.

Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen told reporters in Houston on Tuesday that crews were still aiming to finish drilling two relief wells in mid-August, and he shot down speculation that the first of the two wells could plug the leak in July.

Article continues: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65O5TA20100707

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