Fitch says that oil companies will likely be able to absorb fines

Ratings agency Fitch has said that large oil companies will likely be able to absorb any fine that comes from ongoing European Comission investigations:

The biggest settlement so far over Libor was CHF1.4bn that UBS agreed to pay US, UK and Swiss regulators last year. Even if investigation does uncover wrongdoing, it does not necessarily follow that fines for alleged oil price manipulation would be of a similar size. But if they were, we would not expect them to have an impact on credit ratings, as these producers typically have between USD10bn and USD20bn of cash on their balance sheets. Significantly bigger fines would still be manageable, as shown by BP's ability to cope with the cost of the Macondo oil spill, but would be more likely to have an impact on ratings.

Our industry specialist Suzie Neuwirth on the price fixing probe:

The oil industry became the latest sector to be rocked by allegations of price fixing yesterday as BP, Shell and other major firms confirmed they are under investigation by the European antitrust regulator.

The European Commission said yesterday it had carried out unannounced raids on the premises of several companies on the suspicion that they “may have colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products”.

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