Among the advisers to top management at one of China’s biggest oil companies, the deal is code-named Operation Treasure Ship. The plan is for the China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) to buy Unocal, the ninth largest oil company in the world. This week, CNOOC’s top managers gather in Hong Kong for a conference with their board of directors, as well as the annual shareholders meeting. Operation Treasure Ship will be front and center, as CEO Fu Chengyu seeks the board’s approval to move ahead with the bid.
If he gets the nod, it would be historic. Chinese companies have bought U.S. outfits before”late last year Lenovo acquired IBM’s personal-computer business. But if CNOOC proceeds and prevails, it would be the first time a Chinese firm has beaten a top-flight American one in the race for a prized asset.