Goldman Sachs sold $250 million of BP stock before spill


Firm’s stock sale nearly twice as large as any other institution; Represented 44 percent of total BP investment

The brokerage firm that’s faced the most scrutiny from regulators in the past year over the shorting of mortgage related securities seems to have had good timing when it came to something else: the stock of British oil giant BP.

According to regulatory filings, RawStory.com has found that Goldman Sachs sold 4,680,822 shares of BP in the first quarter of 2010. Goldman’s sales were the largest of any firm during that time. Goldman would have pocketed slightly more than $266 million if their holdings were sold at the average price of BP’s stock during the quarter.

If Goldman had sold these shares today, their investment would have lost 36 percent its value, or $96 million. The share sales represented 44 percent of Goldman’s holdings — meaning that Goldman’s remaining holdings have still lost tens of millions in value.

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The chief executive of BP sold £1.4 million of his shares in the fuel giant weeks before the Gulf of Mexico oil spill caused its value to collapse.

Tony Hayward cashed in about a third of his holding in the company one month before a well on the Deepwater Horizon rig burst, causing an environmental disaster.

Mr Hayward, whose pay package is £4 million a year, then paid off the mortgage on his family’s mansion in Kent, which is estimated to be valued at more than £1.2 million.

There is no suggestion that he acted improperly or had prior knowledge that the company was to face the biggest setback in its history.

His decision, however, means he avoided losing more than £423,000 when BP’s share price plunged after the oil spill began six weeks ago.

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