BP chief hurt by deal blow

BP was under pressure yesterday after a £4bn sale of its stake in Pan American hit the buffers, triggering renewed questions over the company’s recovery from the Deepwater Horizon crisis.

The deal was ditched after buyer Bridas, the oil and gas firm owned by Cnooc of China and Argentina’s Bulgheroni family, failed to resolve a string of legal issues. It is chief executive Bob Dudley’s second failed multi-billion dollar deal this year and has renewed investor concerns about his vaunted turnaround of the group.

Dudley hinted last month that the oil giant could lift its dividend next February, saying the group had reached a “turning point” after its Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

But the failed deal now puts a question mark over those plans.

“As with all things to do with BP the issue is as much to do with risk and this deal failure does highlight execution issues again,” analysts at UBS said in a research note.

In May an Arctic exploration deal with Rosneft collapsed. But BP yesterday insisted that it would be happy to hang on to its stake in Pan American, which it said had good prospects as a business. It added that its disposals and strategy were still on track.