The governments of Norway, Kuwait, China and Singapore have lost £3.4 billion ($5 billion) on BP PLC's share slide since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill started in April, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The sovereign wealth funds were four of the 12 largest holders of BP's London-traded shares at the start of May. Norway's state fund held 336 million shares, or 1.79% of the company, a stake that's dropped £1.1 billion in value since the April 20 explosion aboard a rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers. The Kuwait Investment Authority held 328 million shares, or 1.7%; The People's Bank of China had 1.1%; and the Government of Singapore, 1.07%.
BP attracted investors last year after producing more oil and gas than Exxon Mobil Corp. for the first time. The shares gained 14% in 2009, more than Exxon or Royal Dutch Shell PLC, its closest European rival. BP won plaudits for its ability to discover new reserves. In September, it made the biggest U.S. oil find in three years under the Gulf of Mexico.
“BP was the Goldman Sachs of the oil industry,” said Christine Tiscareno, an analyst at Standard & Poor's in London. “They were attractive because they had high dividends, were winning environmental awards and had done so well with exploration and production. If I were an investor, I would feel this is an unfair situation.”
BP shares fell 3 pence to £3.42 Tuesday in London, the lowest close since 1997. The stock has fallen 48% since April 20, wiping about £60 billion off the value of the London-based company.
Among private fund managers, BlackRock is BP's largest shareholder with 1.1 billion shares, according to the latest filing (as of Dec. 31). Legal & General Group PLC is the second-largest, with a total of 751 million shares. The 12 top investors in BP held 4.72 billion shares as of May 4, or the equivalent of 25% of BP, the data show.
BP may need to spend $40 billion to clean up the cost and settle claims, London-based bank Standard Chartered PLC said last week. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama said BP will put $20 billion into an oil spill compensation fund that will be independently administered by lawyer Kenneth Feinberg. The amount available won't be capped at $20 billion and BP as a “strong and viable company” will be required to pay all damage claims, Mr. Obama said at the White House. BP also has agreed to put another $100 million aside for oil workers.
The Kuwait Investment Authority isn't considering selling its stake in BP, newspaper Al-Rai reported, without saying where it got the information. No one was available to comment.
Norges Bank, which manages Norwegian government investments, doesn't comment on individual holdings.
The Government of Singapore Investment Corp. declined to comment in an e-mailed response to questions. Calls to the People's Bank of China weren't answered Wednesday, a public holiday in China.
Steve Leach, a spokesman of Legal & General Group, declined to comment. Alexandra Ring, a London-based spokeswoman of BlackRock, said the company doesn't discuss individual holdings.