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    Oklahoma Woos Phillips

    Governor hopes to prevent Bartlesville-based chain from moving to Texas.


    OKLAHOMA CITY -- Gov. Frank Keating plans to travel to Houston next week to plead his case for keeping the headquarters of the merged ConocoPhillips oil company in Oklahoma rather than Texas.

    Phillips Petroleum Co. announced plans in November to acquire Conoco Inc. in a stock deal worth approximately $17 billion at current prices, creating the world's sixth biggest investor-owned oil company.

    Phillips was founded by in Bartlesville, Okla. by Frank Phillips in 1917.

    But Chief Executive James Mulva has said the merged company will be based in Houston, which is the center of the U.S. oil industry. Keating has already met with Mulva in a bid to persuade him to reverse the headquarters decision and he is scheduled to meet next Tuesday with Conoco Chief Executive Archie Dunham, Reuters has learned.

    However, speculation began to swirl around the proposed merger earlier this week as a European report claimed oil companies ChevronTexaco, Royal/Dutch Shell or TotalElfFina could make a hostile bid for Conoco luring it away from Phillips. Conoco, Phillips, ChevronTexaco, Royal/Dutch Shell and TotalElfFina all refused comment, citing company policies not to comment on industry speculation.

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