BP sells aluminum unit to Japanese consortium

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British energy group BP said Monday it had agreed to sell its ARCO Aluminum unit to a Japanese consortium for $680 million (478 million euros) as it seeks to meet the costs of last year's disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

"Although a strong business, ARCO Aluminum is clearly a non-strategic asset for BP," chief executive Bob Dudley said in a statement.

"Today's agreement will deliver an attractive price for the business, unlocking its value for our shareholders."

The US unit, which supplies aluminum sheet used to make beverage cans, is being bought by a consortium comprising five Japanese companies.

Sumitomo Light Metal Industries is to take a 40 percent stake, Furukawa Sky Aluminum Corp. 35 percent, Sumitomo Corporation 20 percent, Itochu Metals Corporation 3.0 percent and Itochu Corporation a 2.0-percent holding.

BP is looking to unlock $30 billion by the end of 2011 to meet clean-up and compensation costs linked to last year's devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill that was caused by an explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon platform.

The blast on April 20 killed 11 workers and sent some 4.9 million barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf over a three-month period, wreaking havoc on the region's environment and economy.

"BP remains on track to meet its target of achieving up to $30 billion of divestments by the end of 2011," it said Monday.

"Including ARCO Aluminum, BP has now entered into agreements for divestments with a total value of over $24 billion."

© 2011 AFP

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