Russia’s Rosneft halts TNK-BP talks over deal to buy a stake

City A.M. Reporter
RUSSIA’S Rosneft has taken time out in talks to buy a stake in TNK-BP to avoid falling foul of a shareholder’s agreement between its current owners, Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin said yesterday.

BP said in June it would start the process of selling its 50 per cent stake in TNK-BP, which it formed nearly a decade ago with a group of Russian tycoons called AAR to tap into the country’s vast energy reserves.

In July, BP entered a 90-day period to talk to potential buyers including AAR and Rosneft.

“It seems to me we need to take a break on this issue,” Sechin told reporters on a trip to Russia’s Pacific coast. “As far as I understand there are corporate agreements which do not allow third parties to stick their noses into the issues you are talking about. At the moment we have these limitations.”

The TNK-BP venture – worth an estimated $60bn (£37bn) – has proven highly lucrative but has been plagued by conflict between its owners.

It is governed by a shareholder agreement drawn up at the time TNK-BP was created, which spells out the terms under which the two parties operate, but has not been made public.

The TNK-BP shareholder agreement is secret, but according to a source, the 90-day period obliges BP to maintain good-faith negotiations with AAR while it talks to other parties, and requires AAR to not unreasonably withhold information about the business that BP wants to reveal.

“We have received multiple expressions of interest in the potential acquisition of our interest in TNK-BP and we continue to hold confidential negotiations for the potential sale of BP’s shareholding in TNK-BP,” a BP spokesman said.