Rosneft poised to bid for BP’s stake in TNK after ‘positive’ Kremlin meeting

A firm bid for BP‘s stake in its TNK Russian joint venture is expected from state-owned Rosneft within weeks after a “positive” meeting with the Kremlin.

The British oil group is hoping to sell its 50% stake in TNK-BP in return for cash, but could also accept some shares in Rosneft.

BP tied up an earlier share and Arctic exploration agreement with Rosneft only to see it thwarted by its TNK partners, oligarchs from AAR.

But a revived plan is now under discussion as BP tries to raise $25bn (£15bn), some of which will be used to pay off claims from the Gulf of Mexico spill.

Bob Dudley, the BP chief executive, and his chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, met Vladimir Putin and Rosneft president, Igor Sechin, at Sochi on the Black Sea earlier this week.

“The meeting discussed the continuation and broadening of BP’s presence on the Russian market as well as prospects for co-operation with Russian companies,” said a Kremlin statement.

BP said it had been a positive exchange with Putin which was designed to “update the president on the progress of the sale and to reaffirm our commitments to Russia“.

Rosneft is already understood to be talking to Barclays and other banks in London about raising up to $15bn of new funding to finance a transaction.

An additional $5bn is said to be expected from Russian lenders.

AAR has also said it would intend to submit a bid but only for half of the BP stake.

A 90-day consultation period between BP and AAR ends on 17 October. But a bid from Rosneft could come earlier than this, industry sources say. AAR has no legal right to block a Rosneft deal but can be expected to try to disrupt it, some market watchers say.

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