20100705 flag oil 35
An American flag lays in a slick of oil that washed ashore from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in Gulf Shores, Ala. - 


Bill Radke: In the Gulf of Mexico today, the Coast Guard tried to test a new way to clean up some of the gushing oil. It's a supertanker tricked out to skim huge amounts of oily water from the surface. However, rough seas have put that test on hold. BP has more than oil clean-up to worry about. With its stock down by almost half, the company could be vulnerable to a hostile takeover. There are reports BP is trying to head that off by attracting rich investors as protection.

Here to explain is BBC reporter Rebecca Singer. Rebecca, why in the world would anyone want to invest in BP right now?

Rebecca Singer: Well, first of all, someone might believe that the shares are very undervalued, so you're looking at bargain hunters. Also, in the long term, investors see BP as a very good company, and once the whole fiasco with the oil spill and the clean-up costs are behind them, then they might do very well in the long haul.

Radke: But boy, the size of the fiasco seems not only growing, but hard to assess.

Singer: Yeah, that's right. I mean, BP has already said that it's going to sell of a large chunk of its assets in order to make up money to put into the fund to help with the clean up costs. But also, it's got some very attractive assets if you look at the oil fields that it has in the Middle East and in Asia. So this is a company with pretty strong assets.

Radke: And who is interested in buying a piece of BP?

Singer: Well, it's likely to be a pretty major investor. The main companies in the frame at the moment are actually sovereign wealth funds -- Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, even China.

Radke: And what might be at stake, if these overtures don't work, what could happen to BP?

Singer: Well, the prospect at the moment is that BP could be taken over. Its biggest competitors have already been linked to a possible takeover, the likes of ExxonMobil, Total, Royal Dutch Shell. But the problem with that is that these are all major players in the oil and gas market. And there would be enormous competition issues if they did decide to put in a bid.

Radke: OK, the BBC's reporter in London is Rebecca Singer. Rebecca, thank you.

Singer: My pleasure.