BP closer to selling out in Russia

Marion Dakers
BP’S plan to rid itself of troublesome Russian venture TNK-BP took another twist yesterday, as the oil firm agreed to sit down with its oligarch partners to discuss a sale.

Alfa Access-Renova, the vehicle used by the Russian tycoons to control half of TNK-BP, said yesterday it would use its right to first refusal on BP’s 50 per cent stake in the firm, entitling it to 90 days of “good faith” negotiations.

AAR said it would be interested in buying out BP completely, or taking a 25 per cent stake at current market price.

But in typically spiky form, the oligarchs claimed BP did not have approval to give confidential data on TNK-BP to any other potential bidders. They also warned they could still sue BP for its botched tie-in with Rosneft, which was last year blocked by AAR, sparking the latest flare-up between the joint venture partners.

BP, meanwhile, insisted that it can and will meet with alternative buyers while it conducts talks with AAR, although it cannot do a deal during the 90 days of negotiations.

“AAR and BP both realise that a fundamental realignment in the ownership of TNK-BP is necessary in order to allow each of the shareholders to achieve its strategic objectives and eliminate the internal contradictions that are preventing further development of TNK-BP,” said AAR chief executive Stan Polovets.

TNK-BP generates around 10 per cent of BP’s profits, but conflicts with AAR have marred the lucrative partnership.