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BP Plans to Sell Assets to Feed Victims' Fund

The company responsible for the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is set to begin selling assets to help fund the $20 billion escrow account it agreed to set up for compensating victims.

BP agreed Wednesday to set up the fund, which will be administered by dispute resolution expert Ken Feinberg. On Thursday it said it would set aside earnings from U.S. operations and sell off at least $10 billion in none-core assets.

Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf

Now the company has hired a team of advisers to assist in the sales Sky News' Mark Kleinman reported Friday.

The company has brought on Martin Lovegrove, an oil and gas banker from Standard Chartered to help identify possible assets for sale, Kleinman reported.

BP's moves to raise cash could far exceed the $10 billion in asset sales it has already discussed. In addition to the $20 billion compensation fund, it is expected to face billions more in cleanup costs and legal liabilities.
The company said earlier this week that it would suspend the payment of stock dividends this year.

In creating a victims' compensation fund, BP will set aside assets from its U.S. operations totaling $20 billion. It will then slowly make cash payments to build the fund, pulling out assets as it does so. The fund will "satisfy legitimate claims including natural resource damages and state and local response costs," but not cover fines and penalties - expected to total in the billions - BP said.

The use of the BP escrow fund is intended to avoid a repeat of the painful aftermath of 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska, when the fight over money dragged out in courts over roughly two decades.