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Market Savvy | CONSUMER SAVVY / A briefing for investors

Oil Rumors Bubble

October 07, 1998|Reuters

When Lucio Noto, chief executive of Mobil Corp., canceled a series of meetings with investors last Friday, the merger rumor mill started grinding again. Is Mobil about to buy or be bought?

Noto's cancellations, which analysts said the company attributed to personal reasons, reminded them of Amoco Corp. Chief Executive Laurence Fuller's cancellation of a meeting just before Amoco announced its merger with British Petroleum in August.

Mobil declined to comment on the latest round of market rumors. Those rumors range from a merger of equals with Chevron Corp. to the purchase of Atlantic Richfield to an outright acquisition by Exxon Corp.

Analysts say the logic for a deal by Mobil is compelling as companies like it and Chevron fear being stuck in oil's second echelon, behind a premier league made up of Exxon, Royal Dutch/Shell and BP/Amoco.

"It [Exxon and Mobil] is a possibility. But I still think, if anything is going to take place, it would be Chevron or Arco," said Fadel Gheit, analyst at Fahnestock & Co.

Mobil shares slipped 56 cents Tuesday on the NYSE to $79.25. Chevron fell $1.19 to $87.75 and Arco rose 38 cents to $71.63.

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