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You're reading: TNK-BP’s Russian shareholders may sell out

MOSCOW — BP's billionaire Russian partners in TNK-BP indicated on Tuesday that they are considering selling their stake in the oil joint venture.

 

Moscow-based
TNK-BP is jointly owned by BP and AAR, a group of Russian billionaire
shareholders. The two partners have been locked in a boardroom dispute
for much of the group’s existence. In June, BP said it intended to sell
its 50 percent in TNK-BP, which AAR signaled it would be interested in
buying. Among the other bidders for the share is Russia’s largest oil
company Rosneft, chaired by Putin’s former energy czar Igor Sechin.

On
Tuesday, AAR’s chief executive Stan Polovets said it had notified BP of
its intention to sell its holding as well. Polovets said AAR would
still like to buy out BP, but added that this notice to sell the stake
should give it “flexibility” in resolving the shareholder situation in
case their own bid fails.

In case Rosneft buys out BP, AAR may be able to sell its stake through an IPO, Polovets said.

A
source close to AAR, who refused to be named because he was
unauthorized to comment publicly, said that Russian group’s move would
provide the Russian shareholders with an exit strategy in case Rosneft
wins the bid for BP’s stake.

The source said that the AAR
shareholders doubt that Rosneft has the technology or expertise to match
BP’s and this could hamper TNK-BP’s international expansion.

TNK-BP
has been a key asset for BP, representing 27 percent of its reserves
and 29 percent of its production. Its stake, when sold, could fetch some
$15 billion.

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