October 18, 2012 10:49 am

Rosneft offers $28bn for stake in TNK-BP

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A Rosneft worker turns a valve©Reuters

Rosneft has offered BP up to $28bn in cash and shares for its 50 per cent stake in TNK-BP, in a deal that will turn the Russian national energy champion into the world’s largest publicly traded producer of crude oil.

Rosneft, whose chief executive Igor Sechin is in London for talks on the deal, officially submitted its bid on Thursday morning before a 9am deadline, people familiar with the matter said.

The deal – if approved – would transform Rosneft into one of the world’s largest oil companies while securing BP’s future in Russia for decades to come.

It would mark a victory for Bob Dudley, BP’s chief executive, extricating the UK oil major from a partnership with a group of Soviet-born billionaires that has been plagued by often tempestuous shareholder conflicts.

The deal would give BP $15bn-$20bn in cash plus a stake of 10-20 per cent in Rosneft, one person close to the situation said.

Mr Sechin flew into London on Wednesday to finalise details of the offer. He is holding discussions on Thursday with financial institutions on funding the deal, people close to the situation said. BP’s board is to meet on Friday to consider the company’s options.

BP formed TNK-BP in 2003, investing $8bn into a vehicle that combined its Russian oil holdings with those of the Alfa-Access-Renova consortium, a group of oligarchs led by Mikhail Fridman.

The UK oil group made its money back several times over, receiving $19bn in dividends from the venture. But the partnership was a troubled one, with frequent run-ins between BP and AAR. In 2008, Mr Dudley, the then-chief executive of TNK-BP, was forced to flee Russia as tensions between the shareholders came to a head.

The deal with BP will catapult Rosneft into the premier league of international majors. An expanded Rosneft will produce more than 3m barrels a day of oil, compared with ExxonMobil’s 2.3m b/d.

Transferring a large chunk of Russia’s oil production from private hands to state control, the TNK-BP deal will also signal the most significant realignment of Russia’s oil industry since the break-up of Yukos, once the country’s biggest private oil company.

There is also a possibility that Rosneft could buy out AAR, which is reluctant to be stuck in a partnership with the state-run oil group. The two signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday in which Rosneft agreed to buy AAR’s 50 per cent stake in TNK-BP for $28bn.

However, some analysts have said Rosneft cannot afford to buy all of TNK-BP.

AAR had initially expressed an interest in buying BP’s stake but ended up not submitting a bid. A person close to the consortium said it had been unable to raise financing in time for this morning’s deadline, and felt BP had already decided to do a deal with Rosneft.

AAR had started the process of seeking funding later than Rosneft, the person said, and found that the state-run oil group already had an “exclusivity arrangement ... in place with some of the major financial institutions”.

“As a result, we were unable to finalise the competitive deal we had in mind in the initial timeframe,” he said.

He added that as AAR tried to raise the required amount of financing, it “became apparent to us that BP had already had its mind made up, and our offer would not be welcome”.

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