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US lawmakers meddle in CNOOC's Unocal bid

Washington lawmakers who have expressed opposition to CNOOC's US$18.5 billion bid for Unocal Corp have received more than US$100,000 in campaign contributions from rival bidder Chevron since 2002, the Financial Times reported, citing publicly available filings in the US.

That has raised questions over whether Chevron is drumming up a campaign of opposition to the deal, it said in its online edition.

It cited an unidentified person close to CNOOC as saying that Chevron is using its political clout in Washington to try to increase uncertainty over the higher CNOOC bid for Unocal.

"Chevron does not want to do the math, that 67 dollars per share is higher than 60 dollars per share. It is cheaper for Chevron to raise political uncertainty than it is for them to raise their bid," the person was quoted as saying.

But a person close to Chevron denied that the company has summoned Washington lawmakers to come out in opposition to the deal, the paper said.

"These are members of Congress ... they take their own actions. Given the certainty of our offer and the timing of its approval, we believe it is superior at the existing price," the person said.

Richard Pombo, the Republican congressman from California who sent a letter to President George Bush raising concerns about the deal days before a bid by CNOOC was announced, has received US$13,500 from Chevron over the last three years, the report said, citing data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Pombo's letter was followed by a similar letter signed by 41 House Republicans and Democrats, of which 22 had received political contributions from Chevron in the past three election cycles, the report said.

China angrily responded to a vote by US lawmakers last week that urged the US administration to block CNOOC's 18.5-billion-dollar takeover bid for Unocal.

"We demand that the US Congress correct its mistaken ways of politicizing economic and trade issues and stop interfering in the normal commercial exchanges between enterprises of the two countries," China's foreign ministry said in a statement.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted 398-15 for the non-binding resolution, which said the takeover "would threaten to impair the national security of the United States".

Editorial Notes: The UK's Financial Times publishing (what qualifies these days as) investigative journalism into US politics is curious, that its to the benefit of the Chinese national oil company is even curiouser. Is Chevron about to discover that its not that big a fish after all? -LJ

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