Is BP Vulnerable to a Takeover Following Settlement Payouts?
BP (NYSE:BP) expected to pay dearly for the destruction it caused in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, yet the oil giant is not handing over the money without objection as the amount soars several billion dollars more. After losing its fight over the administration of settlement funds, BP is maneuvering to have a different Louisiana court take up the matter while a surge in claims starts arriving before the 2014 deadline.
Amid rumors BP has asked Britain’s PM David Cameron to intervene, the company’s lawyers are staying busy in New Orleans. Judge Carl Barbier, who is hearing a civil suit case against BP while he continues to oversee settlement litigation, appears to be growing weary of the company’s tactics, questioning the reason for “all these machinations” as appeals wind around courts in the area.
BP could stand to lose even more than expected if a large percentage of the final claims are granted validity by Patrick Juneau, the administrator in charge of the settlement who was recently reaffirmed by Judge Barbier. While BP had set aside $8 billion to cover the claims expected as a result of the spill, it could be liable for another $6 billion. The company is suggesting the $14 billion in total would damage BP permanently and may even leave it vulnerable to a takeover.
Juneau, who is the veteran administrator of other major settlements, believes the pace will rise considerably in the coming months as the April 2014 deadline arrives. Though the amount BP has paid has already surpassed the $40 billion mark, it could break $50 billion before it’s all said and done. The terms of the settlement agreement did not include a ceiling, making the amount BP had to pay open-ended.
While Juneau was surprised by this facet of the agreement, he plans to administrate according to the terms as dictated. Environmental harm, loss of seafood stores, property damage, suits related to the 11 deaths involved, and subsequent business losses have all been elements of the damages paid. Of every category, business losses have been the costliest. As thousands more claims enter Juneau’s New Orleans offices, the expenses could threaten the very existence of BP.