Lib Dems: Blocking a BP takeover would be a massive Tory U-turn

Charlotte Henry
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Mega-deals have been touted as a consequence of an industry facing low oil prices
The Liberal Democrats believe it would be a huge shift for any future Conservative government to try to block a foreign takeover of BP.

The party points to last year’s coalition row over a potential takeover of pharmaceutical giant Astrazeneca by Pfizer. Then, Vince Cable wanted to bring in greater restrictions to protect research and development funding, but was opposed by the Conservatives.

A source close to the business secretary, commenting on speculation over the weekend that Number 10 would seek to stop a potential takeover of BP said: “If the story is to be believed, then that would be an 180 degree U-turn from the Tories.”

Labour has also set out its plans to bring in some greater restrictions on foreign takeovers.

Oil analyst Malcolm Graham-Wood said that the risk of government intervention makes it even less likely BP will be acquired. “For those investors holding out for a bid for BP, the UK government just took away the major prop,” he said.

BP declined to comment on the prospect of a takeover. The oil giant will announce its results for the first three months of 2015 this morning.

A consensus of analysts expects the firm’s “costs profits,” a measure used to accommodate changes in the oil price, to be down to $1.3bn (£850m) from $3.2bn this time last year.

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