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CALIFORNIA

Alaska to Join Fray Over Sale of Arco Assets to Phillips

Oil: State will oppose Exxon Mobil lawsuit that seeks to block deal linked to BP Amoco's $27-billion buyout.

March 31, 2000|From Bloomberg News

The state of Alaska said Thursday that it plans to intervene to oppose an Exxon Mobil Corp. lawsuit that seeks to block Los Angeles-based Atlantic Richfield's sale of its Alaskan operations to Phillips Petroleum Co.

Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles said that state will ask Los Angeles County Superior Court to give it equal standing with Arco, Phillips and BP Amoco, whom Exxon Mobil named in the suit. That would allow the state to call and cross-examine witnesses.

The suit, filed March 24 in Los Angeles, seeks a preliminary injunction against the sale. A hearing has been scheduled for April 26. Knowles said Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Lee Raymond assured him that the company isn't trying to interfere with BP Amoco's $27-billion buyout of Arco.

"What they say and what they do are in contradiction," Knowles said.

BP Amoco and Arco are the two biggest producers of Alaskan oil, with Exxon Mobil a distant third. Exxon Mobil, based in Irving, Texas, has said it is concerned about who will operate Arco's fields and how they will be operated.

Alaska has urged the Federal Trade Commission to approve the BP Amoco-Arco merger. Knowles said the state would ask both the FTC and California to help resolve the dispute with Exxon Mobil.

In New York Stock Exchange trading, Exxon Mobil shares fell $1.88 to close at $78.63. Arco rose $2.50 to close at $82.69, while Bartlesville, Okla.-based Phillips rose $1.19 to close at $45.63. London-based BP Amoco's American depositary receipts rose $1.63 to close at $51.94 on the NYSE.

BP Amoco and Arco agreed March 15 to sell Arco's Alaska business to Phillips for about $7 billion to win FTC approval of their merger. Exxon Mobil's suit is based on its rights of first refusal to buy some of the Arco assets, which date to agreements from 1964.

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