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    BP May Be Vulnerable to a Takeover

    Exxon and Shell are cited by analysts as possible acquirers.

    LONDON -- The overhang surrounding BP plc's Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 has left a company that is vulnerable to a takeover, according to analysts with knowledge of the company.

    According to a report in Bloomberg Businessweek, BP could be acquired once it officially exits a troubled Russian oil venture and resolves any civil litigation regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which may be settled prior to a trial set to begin on Feb. 25.

    As CSNews Online reported last week, BP agreed to $4.5 billion in penalties and accept responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The money penalties include $4 billion in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and $525 million with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

    As for why companies would want to acquire BP, it is considered cheap by market value relative to reserves, earnings and output, the report stated.

    "Sum of the parts, BP is the cheapest big oil company in the world," Stuart Joyner, head of oil and gas at Investec Securities Ltd., told the news outlet.

    As for which companies might be interested in BP, the news source cited ExxonMobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell plc as the most likely suitors.

    ExxonMobil is said to be looking for ways to expand, and a deal with Shell would create a European energy giant, according to experts.

    Officials at ExxonMobil and Shell declined to comment when reached by Bloomberg.

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