Business & Finance: Deck Reshuffled

In the blue-chip game of international oil, Mexican Oil Czar Antonio J. Bermudez thought he had an ace in the hole. Though Mexico had kicked out U.S. oil companies in 1938 and seized their properties, he thought they would crawl back if egged on by the State Department.

Bermúdez' hunch was that Mexican oil reserves would be needed by the U.S. in case of another war. But most U.S. companies have refused to go back under the poor terms offered by Pemex, the government oil monopoly. Hat in hand, Bermúdez has had to ask the U.S. to put up $200 million for...

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