Saturday, August 27, 2011

As Gaddafi topples, big British companies queue to get back into Libya

Amid the confusion of war, engineering and oil groups are already trying to restablish links with the transitional council

Simon Goodley

The Observer, Sunday 28 August 2011

"Major British companies are hatching plans to relaunch their businesses in Libya – just days after news of the apparent downfall of the Gaddafi regime. Previously war-torn capitals such as Baghdad and Kabul have rapidly become targets for western capitalism, with major US and European retailers now jostling for position on shopping streets. And already FTSE 100 constituents such as engineering firm Weir Group and oil major BP are seeking to make contact with Libyan officials as companies formulate early plans to return to a country they fled in February....

However, Libya's rebels are examining allegations of corruption within the country's $65bn sovereign wealth fund, a probe that is thought to include examining, and perhaps renegotiating, any contracts that were improperly handed out to friends of Colonel Gaddafi's son, Saif. One oil industry expert says: "Even though there are these assurances [of being allowed to return], the whole history of the oil industry is of contracts being occasionally rewritten … But the Libyans will need foreign exchange, so I'd expect them to crank up [oil and gas] production pretty quickly. However, these things do take time."...."

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