Gazprom is willing to buy a controlling stake in the Russian-British joint oil venture TNK-BP by the end of the year for $20 billion, business daily Vedomosti said on Thursday. Russian co-owners of TNK-BP said reports, that they could sell their shares in the Russian-British venture to energy giant Gazprom were groundless.
“The issue of TNK-BP’s sale to Gazprom for $20 billion is a decided matter. The deal will be closed by the end of the year,” a source close to the management of the Russian energy giant told Vedomosti.
A source close to one of the co-owners of TNK-BP, a joint venture established on a parity basis in August 2003 between Britain’s BP and Russia’s AAR consortium of Alfa-Group, Access Industries and Renova, confirmed Gazprom’s willingness to acquire a controlling stake by the end of the year, the paper said.
According to the source, the energy giant approached Russian shareholders at TNK-BP, Russia’s third largest company in terms of crude oil output, early in 2008 with a proposal to buy out their entire stake in the joint venture and told them that it had agreed on purchasing another 1% from BP. However, under the existing TNK-BP shareholder agreement, each party has a priority right to buy out the stock of its partners, the daily said.
AAR consortium, representing Alfa Group, Access Industries and Renova, holds 50% in the energy company. “Speculations and rumors that AAR is planning to sell its stake in TNK-BP are ungrounded and untrue,” the consortium said. “The AAR consortium, which is a long-term strategic investor in TNK-BP, does not intend to exit the company’s shareholder capital and has never held and is not holding any talks on the sale of its stake in TNK, which is an example of one of the most successful companies in the energy sector,” a statement by the Russian shareholders said.
Gazprom has long been seeking to buy a controlling stake in TNK-BP. However, until late last year, a moratorium on the sale of stock by the Russian-British joint venture was in effect, a Gazprom manager told Vedomosti. (rian.ru)