BP is bracing to defer dividend payments to stockholders because of pressure from the Obama administration over the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill, The Times of London reports it has learned, although the petroleum giant’s CEO has balked at confirming such an idea.
BP board members are discussing delaying the $2.5 billion second-quarter payout, which was to be announced on July 27, until the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history is brought under control, The Times said in an exclusive report today.
The same plan, which could be approved next month, could apply to subsequent quarterly payments until what once was Britain’s largest company is on firmer ground, The Times quote people familiar with the situation as saying.
Meanwhile, BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward told The Wall Street Journal, “We are considering all options on the dividend. But no decision has been made."
Such statements don't sit well with Gulf Coast residents and politicians nationlly and locally. In fact, Politico reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi emerged from a meeting with President Obama and other official about the spill demanding that BP halt its dividends.
“I’m saying that they should not be paying dividends until they make these people whole and make a better effort to do it in a timely fashion,” Politico quoted Pelosi as telling reporters after the meeting. “These people are coming to us and saying ‘I have to take out a loan,’ . . . which I can ill-afford to repay because BP is not, you know, is not paying. BP has the money, it made $17 billion last year."
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