WSJ: Libya Oil Chief Urges Stake in BP

Flag of Libya

Flag of Libya

Is Libya interested in buying at least part of BP or some of its shares? The Wall Street Journal has the following story:

DUBAI—Libya should buy a strategic stake in BP PLC to take advantage of its weak share price following the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the country’s top oil official told Zawya Dow Jones.

Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya’s National Oil Co. said he will recommend buying a stake in BP to the Libyan Investment Authority, or LIA, the North African state’s sovereign wealth fund.

“BP is interesting now with the price lower by half and I still have trust in BP, I will recommend it to the LIA,” Mr. Ghanem said in a telephone interview Monday. “It’s a good opportunity for bargain hunters,” he added.

Mr. Ghanem’s remarks follow local press speculation that oil-rich Middle East investors are considering a strategic investment in BP as it continues to battle the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill, now in its 76th day, ranks among the largest in U.S. history and has hurt the region’s fishing and tourism industries.

“We are not selling any assets right now but we do wish to sell $10 billion of noncore upstream assets over the next 12 months; if people want to buy BP shares we always welcome new shareholders,” said John Pack, a London-based spokesperson for BP.

However, Mr. Ghanem’s recommendation does not mean that Libya’s sovereign wealth fund will actually buy any BP shares. From Yahoo! News:

“I think that BP shares are good value for bargain hunters,” Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corporation, said in a telephone interview.

He declined to comment when asked if he would recommend that the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), a Libyan sovereign wealth fund, buy BP shares. He added he did not know if the LIA would be buying shares and that he would not be part of any decision it made to do so.

“I am not part of the decision-making process on investments by Libya,” he said.