Total denies takeover bid for Royal Dutch/Shell

9th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 8 (AFP) - French oil group Total on Wednesday dismissed prospects for a takeover bid aimed at Anglo-Dutch rival Royal Dutch/Shell, which is struggling to recover from a reserves scandal, signalling that such a move would prove too complex.

PARIS, Sept 8 (AFP) - French oil group Total on Wednesday dismissed prospects for a takeover bid aimed at Anglo-Dutch rival Royal Dutch/Shell, which is struggling to recover from a reserves scandal, signalling that such a move would prove too complex.  

Total chief executive Thierry Desmarest said he was not studying any acquisitions at this stage.   "To be honest, today I do not see a transaction presenting enough appeal for acquisitions," he said at a mid-year review news conference.  

Rumours that Total was eyeing Shell surfaced last month after the British Sunday newspaper The Observer reported that Shell feared it was a takeover target of Total, citing informed sources at Shell.  

The credibility of the scenario grew in view of Total's strong financial position.  

"We are not fanatic about mega-mergers," Desmarest said, adding that "in these big transactions, half are failures, half are successes."  

Nevertheless, he said, Total remains open to "external growth opportunities."  

But high oil prices mean that now is not the right time for "bargains", he added.  

"To us, Shell has been a model in the development of the oil industry in the 80s and 90s. Even if the company is going through a more difficult period, there is a reserve of quality people, which means that Shell will get through this period," he said.  

"We have a lot of joint operations with Shell and we get on very well," he said.   Shell was fined a total of USD 150 million by US and British regulators last month after admitting in January it had overstated its proved oil and gas reserves. It has since cut them by a total of 4.47 billion barrels, or 23 percent.  

Analysts said a hostile takeover bid by Total would be difficult because of the structure of the Anglo-Dutch group. The shareholders of Royal Dutch, based in the Netherlands, own 60 percent of the group and those of Shell, based in Britain, own 40 percent.

© AFP

 

Subject: French News

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