BP faced fresh takeover speculation on the weekend after the Obama administration reportedly told ExxonMobil it would not stand in the way of a takeover bid for its troubled British rival.
With the market value of BP falling from about £120bn to about £70bn due to the Gulf of Mexico disaster, potential bidders are likely to be keen on taking advantage of the oil giant's current plight.
Oil industry sources told The Times ExxonMobil had been given a green light by the US Government to "take a look" at BP. A merger would create a group with a stock market value of £265bn.
Tony Hayward, the BP chief executive, has moved to block the threat of a hostile bid by meeting a number of sovereign wealth funds, including the Kuwait Investment Office.
BP has begun talks with rivals about selling off assets to help strengthen its financial position. The Times reports the Apache Corporation, the US's largest independent oil group, was in exclusive talks to buy investments worth $12bn from BP, including a stake in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, the largest oil field in North America.
BP is aiming to announce sales before the release of its first-half financial results on 27 July.
While the cost of the spill to BP has already hit more than $3bn, analysts at Goldman Sachs estimate the final bill for the disaster caused by the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig could run to $70bn, The Telegraph added.
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