BP and Exxon Mobil to Merge? Don't Bet on It

Business writers rein in this weekend's sizzling Wall Street rumor

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Amid speculation that Exxon Mobil and Chevron are looking to prepare a hostile bid for BP, the troubled oil giant is trading at its highest level since June 8. But is a colossal merger of this kind really feasible? The rumor mill began following a Financial Times report that the Obama administration told Exxon Mobil to "take a look" at BP. However, the following business writers think any such merger is highly unlikely. Here's why:

  • It Just Doesn't Add Up, writes Elizabeth Souder at the Dallas News: "I don't see why the profitable company would file for bankruptcy -- or why the British would allow that to happen, with so many pensioners relying on BP dividends. And I am baffled by the idea that Irving's Exxon Mobil Corp. might try to buy BP and all its problems. Why would a company that only recently put its own spill behind it, buy somebody else's environmental disaster? ...I also think there's the problem of BP's safety record and poor public image."
  • A 'Legal Nightmare,' explains Paul La Monica at CNN Money: "Why would any company want to inherit the massive legal headache associated with all the claims tied to the Gulf of Mexico spill? Sure, Exxon Mobil may be best equipped to deal with BP given that it was able to move on from the Valdez disaster in 1989 and is now the most valuable company in the U.S. But are BP's assets really worth the hassle? ...Plus, one would have to imagine that any takeover of BP would lead to a long, protracted antitrust review that could take months, if not years... That process would likely need to take place by regulators on both sides of the Atlantic."
  • BP Is Too Expensive, writes Michael Corkery at The Wall Street Journal: "The likelihood that Exxon Mobil could swallow the entire $113 billion market cap BP seems remote. Exxon has only begun to digest its $41 billion acquisition of natural gas producer XTO in a deal that has been poorly received by investors. Exxon Mobil has generated total returns of -18% (include share price returns and dividends) since the deal was announced in December, compared with -2% decline in the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index and the -8% return by rival Chevron. Investors worry that it could take several years before the natural-gas market and broader economy improves to justify the deal, according to J.P. Morgan Chase analyst Fred Lucas."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.