Following a meeting with the President of the United States, the BP Board announced an agreed package of measures to meet its obligations as a responsible party arising from the Deepwater Horizon spill.
Agreement was reached to create a $20bn claims fund over the next three and a half years on the following basis:
The fund does not represent a cap on BP liabilities, but will be available to satisfy legitimate claims. Further and more detailed terms regarding the establishment and operation of the claims fund and the ICF will be finalized and announced as soon as possible.
As a consequence of this agreement, the BP Board has reviewed its dividend policy. Notwithstanding BP's strong financial and asset position, the current circumstances require the Board to be prudent and it has therefore decided to cancel the previously declared first quarter dividend scheduled for payment on June 21, and that no interim dividends will be declared in respect of the second and third quarters of 2010.
The Board remains strongly committed to the payment of future dividends and delivering long term value to shareholders. The Board will consider resumption of dividend payments in 2011 at the time of issuance of the fourth quarter 2010 results, by which time it expects to have a clearer picture of the longer term impact of the Deepwater Horizon incident.
The Board believes that it is right and prudent to take a conservative financial position given the current uncertainty over the extent and timing of costs and liabilities relating to the spill. BP's businesses continue to perform well, with cash flows from operations expected to exceed $30bn in 2010 at current prices and margins before taking into consideration costs related to the Deepwater Horizon spill. BP's gearing level remains at the bottom of its targeted band of 20-30 per cent. In addition, the Company has over $10bn of committed banking facilities. To further increase the Company's available cash resources, the Board intends to implement a significant reduction in organic capital spending and to increase planned divestments to approximately $10bn over the next twelve months.
Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said, "We appreciated the constructive meeting conducted by the President and his senior advisers and are confident that the agreement announced today will provide greater comfort to the citizens of the Gulf coast and greater clarity to BP and its shareholders. We welcome the administration's statements acknowledging that BP is a strong company and that the administration has no interest in undermining the financial stability of BP. This agreement is a very significant step in clarifying and confirming our commitment to meet our obligations. We regret the cancellation and suspension of the dividends, but we concluded it was in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders."
Chief Executive Tony Hayward said, "From the outset we have said that we fully accepted our obligations as a responsible party. This agreement reaffirms our commitment to do the right thing. The President made it clear and we agree that our top priority is to contain the spill, clean up the oil and mitigate the damage to the Gulf coast community. We will not rest until the job is done."
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