TNK-BP oligarch: 'we could sell stake to BP'

A resolution to BP’s ongoing dispute with its Russian partner TNK-BP may be in sight after one of the tycoons in the joint venture said he and others would be willing to sell their stake to BP.

Viktor Vekselberg, one of the oligarchs making up the AAR consortium that owns half of the TNK-BP venture, told BBC Russia in an interview that a sale would be possible at the right valuation.

AAR has so far refused BP’s $27bn (£16.4bn) offer to buy its 50 per cent stake in TNK-BP, saying it was too low.

The tycoons are currently blocking BP’s proposed $18bn (£11bn) share swap and Arctic exploration deal with Russia’s government-owned oil company Rosneft, arguing that it breaches their right of first refusal to any Russian exploration.

An arbitration tribunal granted AAR an injunction blocking the deal from progressing.

But Vekselberg’s comments on a potential sale of their stake suggest a resolution to the dispute can be found.

“Of course it can happen. If it is [an] interesting proposal for us according to our understanding of the valuation of this company, of course we can accept,” he said.

But he added that he remained “very upset” at BP’s decision to sign the deal with Rosneft without informing the TNK-BP partners.

“I was very upset, I am still upset even now. I really understand BP's preference – they would like to have a state partner – I'm just upset. Legally, our position is very strong,” he said.