Tony Hayward, the embattled BP chief executive, held a top level meeting in Abu Dhabi today with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Sheikh Mohammed is also chairman of Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government. A spokesman for BP in London said: "We can confirm he met Sheikh Mohammed, but cannot talk about what they discussed." The spokesman declined to comment on reports that the possibility of an Abu Dhabi institution taking up to 10 per cent of the shares was on the agenda.
BP has insisted it has no plans to raise new equity in the company, which appears to rule out a big strategic shareholding. However, BP would be happy for new investors to buy shares in the market. A source close to BP in London said: "It's not a good time to be issuing new shares to anybody. Existing shareholders have suffered in the past few months and they would not like it. "The point of the visit was to stay close to people who are good, long-term friends of the company, but BP is not begging anybody to buy the shares."
Mr Hayward's trip to the UAE has revived investor appetite for BP shares, ravaged since the blow-out of a Gulf of Mexico oil well in April. They continued their recovery yesterday, rising 4.28 per cent to 363.3 pence in London. Mr Hayward was also reported to have had meetings with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the emirate's main sovereign wealth fund, and the International Petroleum Investment Company.