Recently, BP's Tony Hayward was spotted in Las Vegas, engaging in a discrete transaction. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but it's possible that the following transaction took place this past week.
Tony walked into the shop off the famous Vegas strip, and the pawn broker asked what he had brought in. The BP chief executive laid out his papers on the glass counter, fanning them out to make them look large.
"Permian Basin holdings in Texas and southeast New Mexico," Tony said with pride. He was an engineer, not a salesman, and his awkwardness showed through. "Gas in Canada. Exploration concessions in Egypt. Half of Prudhoe Bay in Alaska."
"What are you looking to get for them?"
"I need to raise twenty billion," said Tony. "Things were going great until the accident. The repair bill has been growing larger by the day, and we've run through out little savings account. Well, we spent a big piece of that on campaign contributions and wasn't that throwing away good money? If we don't give in to the government's demands to set up a slush fund, who knows what the bullies in Congress might do?"
"You looking to sell them or pawn them?"
"Oh, sell, sell. In fact, I'll throw in some oil fields in Pakistan and Vietnam. Do we have a deal?"
"I'm in this business to make money," said the broker. "I don't have a lot of customers walking in the door looking for oil fields and drilling rights. But I can see you're in a bind and I'd like to help you out. I'll give you eight billion."
"No, I can't let it go for that. Fifteen billion? I'm getting desperate here." Flop sweat beaded on his forehead. He hated to beg, but a man in his position had little choice. "The bosses have given me the sack and my retirement fund depends on this transaction. Can you go ten billion?"
"It's a deal. Let's go sign some paperwork."