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    BP, Shell in Merger Talks

    Friendly merger could save the companies more than $5 billion.

    LONDON -- Published reports state that BP and Royal Dutch Shell are once again in merger talks that could create a £250 billion oil giant, or $504 billion U.S.

    Two British papers -- The London Times and The Daily Mail -- simultaneously reported that Britain's two largest oil companies have engaged financial advisors to discuss terms for a so-called friendly merger that could result in £2.5 billion [$5.04 billion U.S.] of cost savings for the combined group.

    Last year, under former CEO John Browne, BP was thought to have approached Shell, and those plans have been rekindled under current CEO Tony Hayward, the Times reported.

    The combined company would produce over 70 percent more oil and gas than oil giant ExxonMobil, the report stated. If the deal goes ahead, it would signal the peak of the recent wave of global takeover activity, The Daily Mail reported.

    CSNews Online's request for comment from BP was declined by a spokesperson, calling the reports "market rumors," while a call to Shell for comment was unreturned by press time.

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