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Exxon Declines to Comment on Reported Interest in BP

July 11 (Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. declined to comment on reports the company has received government approval to explore a bid for BP Plc.

Exxon’s Alan Jeffers had no comment on the report today in the London-based Times newspaper. Max McGahan, a spokesman for London-based BP, also said he wouldn’t comment.

BP is seeking funds to pay for the biggest U.S. oil spill in history. The company is in talks to sell some assets including its Alaska oil fields to Houston-based Apache Corp., two people familiar with the discussions said. The talks were first reported in the same story as the Exxon news in the Times.

The Times reported that Exxon, based in Irving, Texas, has been told by the U.S. government it can look at a potential bid for BP. The newspaper cited oil-industry sources for the information.

BP scrapped its dividend and said last month it will sell some of its assets to pay cleanup costs, fines and legal damages from the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The company has spent more than $3 billion on spill response in the Gulf of Mexico and agreed to establish a $20 billion fund for damage claims.

Exxon would evaluate any asset sales by BP, Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson said on July 8.

Cecelia Prewett, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, said she’s not aware of the agency giving Exxon the permission.

“We would need to do a review,” she said in an e-mailed statement today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Katarzyna Klimasinska in Houston at kklimasinska@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net

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