Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BP Shrugs off Fear of Asset Grab by Russians

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BP Shrugs off Fear of Asset Grab by Russians

Article excerpt

Byline: MICKEY CLARK

OIL giant BP shrugged off early selling pressure to post a rise of 4p at 571p despite City concerns that it may be next in the Kremlin's firing line as it moves to reclaim Russia's extensive oil and gas assets.

The fears follow news that the Russians are paying rival oil explorer Royal Dutch Shell and its Japanese partners $7.5 billion ([pounds sterling]4.3 billion) to buy out the Sakhalin-2 project in Siberia and hand control to Gazprom.

The deal was personally signed by President Putin as if to underline the country's determination. The message will have been taken on board by BP management, which has ploughed billions of pounds into its TNK-BP joint venture.

City brokers say that for Shell, 2p firmer at 1798p, the Sakhalin-2 move will have repercussions for the company's oil assets which had to be written down by more than 20% two years ago. BP's operations in the region have already faced difficulties. Earlier this year, it received a heavy backdated tax charge and faced accusations over environmental issues.

Share prices generally traded within a narrow range during the shortened session. There was little appetite among City investors following a lacklustre performance on

Wall Street overnight and the FTSE 100 index was up by just 1.6 points at 6185.3.

Marks & Spencer, 512p ahead at 71912p, remains the pick of the sector for broker Credit Suisse, and looks to have had a great run-up to Christmas.

Among leaders, Inter-Continental Hotels showed the way with a jump of 52p to a record 1213p, buoyed by talk that it could find itself on the receiving end of 1500p-a-share offer from Dubai International Capital in the New Year.

Wall's ice cream-to-Tetley tea group Unilever also stood out with a rise of 10p to 1416p after UBS repeated its buy rating and lifted its target price from 1480p to 1595p.

Big Yellow ticked a further 412p better to a record high of 63712p.

Dealers say a few big buyers have been chasing shares of the selfstorage warehouse operator higher in the belief it may utilise its extensive property interests by converting

converting into a Real Estate Investment Trust in the New Year. …

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