* BP, KIA deny report in Kuwaiti newspaper
* Sovereign wealth fund KIA owns 1.75 pct of BP
(Adds BP denial)
KUWAIT, August 2 (Reuters) - Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund and BP Plc (BP.L) on Monday denied a local newspaper report that the embattled oil giant had asked the fund to raise its stake in the company to 3 percent, to fend off potential takeover bids.
“The Kuwait Investment Authority did not receive an offer from BP to increase its stake,” KIA said in a statement.
“There is no truth in this story. It’s a rumour and speculation,” BP spokeswoman Sheila Williams said in a statement.
Kuwaiti newspaper al-Anba had quoted an unnamed fund official as saying that BP’s outgoing chief executive, Tony Hayward, made the request in a telephone call to the fund which owns 1.75 percent of BP.
Anba reported that Hayward said the move was part of an effort to fend off takeover bids by other international oil companies following BP’s devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The report said Kuwait, the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter, had no intention of exiting its investment in BP.
Last month, another Kuwaiti daily reported that Kuwait may buy some of BP’s Middle East and Asian assets including oil fields in Egypt and Yemen, as the company seeks to raise billions of dollars to cover costs resulting from its massive U.S. oil spill. [ID:nLDE6640A8].
Reporting by Diana Elias; Editing by Jason Neely, Dinesh Nair, Erica Billingham