Kemp: BP Must Remain British, Says Whitehall
John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own
LONDON, April 27 (Reuters) - "Downing Street has discreetly let it be known in the City that it would oppose any takeover of BP," the Financial Times reported on Sunday.
The prime minister's office has signalled it would make life difficult for any bidder, although no bid has been mooted yet, the newspaper said ("UK ministers make Gallic gesture to keep the British in BP", April 26).
The company formerly known as British Petroleum was rebranded as the more neutral BP at the turn of the millennium after absorbing U.S. oil firms Amoco and Arco.
But the company's identity remains complicated, at once BP and British Petroleum, part of Britain's establishment but also a footloose international oil major with operations around the world.
Much more than Royal Dutch Shell, with its historical link to the Netherlands, BP is Britain's national oil company and bears with it the country's hopes for a major post-imperial role.
BP continues to have a close relationship with Britain's establishment - reaching beyond government ministers, who come and go, right into the core of the permanent Whitehall bureaucracy as well as the media and London's financial managers.
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