Rosneft returns to BP with offer for Russian arm

Marion Dakers
A YEAR and a half after it sparked a £10bn row, Rosneft has waded back into the dispute between BP and its Russian partners by offering to buy half of their joint venture, TNK-BP.

BP said yesterday it had entered formal talks with state-owned Rosneft to sell its 50 per cent holding in TNK-BP.

Last year, BP scrapped its £10bn share swap and exploration deal with Rosneft after coming under heavy pressure from AAR, the vehicle used by a trio of Russian billionaires to control half of TNK-BP.

Meanwhile, BP said it will continue its 90 days of good faith negotiations to sell the same stake to AAR, as required by their joint venture.

The parallel talks mean the final make-up of TNK-BP is unclear, with some analysts speculating that Rosneft’s interest could bounce AAR into selling out rather than BP.

Relations between all three firms have soured further since AAR took legal action to thwart Rosneft and BP’s alliance in January 2011, before turning down a $32bn bid from the pair to buy it out of TNK-BP.

BP put the stake in TNK-BP on the block on 1 June, after receiving unsolicited approaches for the lucrative but troublesome venture. TNK-BP has delivered $19bn in dividend payments to BP since it was formed in 2003.

Rosneft appeared to have no qualms about its potential partners yesterday, with president and former government minister Ivor Sechin saying: “Rosneft has an established expertise and track record in managing large assets and considers the potential acquisition of BP’s participation in TNK-BP to be an attractive commercial proposition.”

The potential acquisition would complement its existing portfolio and create value for all stakeholders.”