BP planning first bond issue since spill

SOURCE: Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller | The Washington Post - Sept. 29, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BP plans to sell bonds for the first time since the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico sent its stock price sinking, and some reports said the company might seek to raise as much as $3.5 billion.

Despite the massive cost of the spill, BP does not need to borrow money to make payments to the $20 billion escrow fund it has agreed to create to meet economic and environmental claims. But now that the worst-case scenarios about the spill have failed to materialize, it is BP's best opportunity in months to raise new funds.

BP has also received good news on the legal front. The oil spill had prompted some plaintiffs to urge a federal court judge to revoke probation that had been placed on BP as a result of the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion. In August, BP paid a $50 million federal fine for violations at the refinery. The probation expires in March 2012.

But early this month, a Justice Department lawyer wrote letters to Texas District Court Judge Lee H. Rosenthal saying that Justice was not seeking revocation or extension of BP's probation.

- Steven Mufson

Barnes & Noble founder wins proxy battle

Billionaire investor Ronald Burkle lost his bid to unseat the chairman of book giant Barnes & Noble in a shareholder vote Tuesday, delivering a big victory to the company's leadership. Ever since Burkle began rapidly accumulating the company's shares late last year and pushing for a major shakeup, he and Barnes & Noble chairman and founder Leonard Riggio have been engaged in a war of words. The results were announced at Barnes & Noble's annual meeting in New York; an official count was not released, but Barnes & Noble lawyers said Riggio's slate won by a 5-percentage-point margin.

- Los Angeles Times

Home price increases slowed in July

Home prices cooled over the summer, hurt by a slump in sales following the end of a government tax incentive, according to data released Tuesday. Prices in 20 cities rose 3.2 percent in July from a year earlier, a report from S&P/Case-Shiller showed, the smallest year-over-year gain since March.

Meanwhile, mounting gloom over the outlook for jobs and wages helped send the Conference Board's index of consumer confidence to 48.5, its lowest level since February. The report Tuesday from the New York-based research group suggests that spending by American consumers may take longer than expected to recover.

- Bloomberg News

© 2010 The Washington Post Company