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Obama says criticisms not intended to 'undermine' BP's value

Video by Shona BHATTACHARYYA

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-06-13

US President Barack Obama told British Prime Minister David Cameron in a telephone conversation Saturday that his response to BP's management of the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico was not meant to "undermine" the company's value.

 REUTERS - U.S. President Barack Obama told British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday that he had "no interest in undermining" the value of BP following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

 The two leaders said BP should continue to work intensively to deal with what they called a human and environmental catastrophe when they discussed the issue in a 30-minute phone call, according to Cameron's office.
 
They put on a show of unity after the issue had threatened to cause a diplomatic rift between Obama and the new British prime minister.
 
"President Obama said to the Prime Minister that his unequivocal view was that BP was a multinational global company and that frustrations about the oil spill had nothing to do with national identity," Cameron's office said in a statement.
 
"The Prime Minister stressed the economic importance of BP to the UK, U.S. and other countries. The President made clear that he had no interest in undermining BP's value," it added.
 
The two leaders discussed the crisis against the backdrop of public anger and political pressure on both sides of the Atlantic over the spill, which has fouled coastlines, closed rich fishing grounds and battered BP's share price, and more than halved its market value since the crisis began.
 BP has been the target of stinging attacks by the White House and its share price has gyrated on London and New York stock exchanges this week. Obama administration officials have threatened to increase BP's liabilities for the spill.
 
Must do better
 
A top U.S. Coast Guard official had told BP the company's plans to contain the gushing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico do not go far enough or contain enough back-up measures, it emerged on Saturday.
 
"BP must identify in the next 48 hours additional leak containment capacity that could be operationalized and expedited," Coast Guard Rear Admiral James Watson said in a letter to BP dated June 11.
 
BP said it was considering suspending its dividend payments after U.S. politicians said it should pay all damage claims before making payouts to shareholders.
 
BP accounts for about 12 percent of all dividend payouts made by British companies, and suspension would hit British pension funds hard.
 
BP said the company's board would meet on Monday to discuss a range of issues -- it has been meeting weekly since the crisis started.
 
However, a source said a decision on the dividend may not be made until after BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg has met Obama on Wednesday.
 
Concerns about the London-based energy giant's future -- it faces a U.S. government criminal and civil investigation and the prospect of a slew of lawsuits and hefty fines -- prompted Cameron and his finance minister on Friday to defend the firm.
 
The political backing helped the company's share price to claw back 7 percent in London.

 

Date created : 2010-06-12

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