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BP Gains on Report Shell Considered Bid; Compensation Costs Played Down

BP Plc jumped the most in six months after a report that Royal Dutch Shell Plc considered a takeover bid during the oil spill and the lawyer in charge of the $20 billion compensation fund said only half the cash may be needed.

Shell is still interested in a merger, the Daily Mail newspaper reported today, citing unidentified people close to the company. Kenneth Feinberg, who is administering the fund, said in a Dec. 31 Bloomberg Television interview that $10 billion may be “more than enough to pay all the claims.”

BP advanced 5.9 percent, the most since July 12, to 492.90 pence as of the 4:30 p.m. close in London. Shell considered a bid for BP last year when the shares were at their nadir after the spill, according to the Daily Mail. BP has recovered 60 percent since the end of June after the company agreed to set up an escrow account demanded by President Barack Obama to pay for cleanup and economic losses.

“Shell could be interested, and that would boost the upside to the shares,” said Gudmund Halle Isfeldt, an analyst at DnB NOR ASA in Oslo. “Most importantly, BP has done a lot to mitigate all the bad things that happened last year. They’re on more solid footing now.”

Mark Salt, a spokesman for BP in London, declined to comment on the report. Shell’s press department wasn’t available for comment when contacted by phone.

Feinberg Comments

BP suspended its dividend and pledged to sell up to $30 billion in assets to support the compensation fund.

“This opens the door for a dividend to be reintroduced sooner rather than later,” David Hart, an analyst at Westhouse Securities Ltd. in London, said in response to Feinberg’s comments.

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which also covers clean-up and remediation costs, has paid about $2.7 billion to more than 170,000 claimants, mostly in temporary, emergency payments in the past four months. The facility has received more than 468,000 claims, according to its website. Feinberg said many claims lacked sufficient documentation to warrant payment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Swint in London at bswint@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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