MOSCOW, October 17 (RIA Novosti)
Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich admitted on Wednesday the AAR consortium of four Russian billionaire shareholders in TNK-BP had reached a tentative deal to sell its stake in the joint venture to state-controlled oil giant Rosneft.
“I know that commercial talks are ongoing and as far as I have heard a letter of intent has been signed while there is no legally binding document yet,” Dvorkovich said.
Sky News reported on Wednesday, citing its sources, the Russian oligarchs whose joint venture with BP has been plagued by years of in-fighting, have reached preliminary agreement on a deal to sell their stake to state-owned oil giant Rosneft for about $28 billion.
“AAR, a consortium of four oligarchs (Len Blavatnik, Mikhail Fridman, German Khan and Viktor Vekselberg), owns 50 percent of TNK-BP. They are understood to have signed an outline agreement with Rosneft in Moscow last night,” the TV channel said.
October 17 is the deadline for the expiry of “good faith” talks between BP and AAR on a possible repurchase of the British oil major’s stake in the joint venture in accordance with the existing shareholders’ agreement.
Dvorkovich said, however, Rosneft had not yet applied to the government on approving the deal to repurchase the AAR’s stake in TNK-BP.
“There have not been any requests for approval so far, at least formal,” he said, adding transactions like this required a government approval and the issuance of a government directive on this issue.
BP, which is currently holding talks both with AAR and Russian state-controlled oil company Rosneft on a possible sale of its stake estimated by analysts at $25 billion, announced its decision to quit TNK-BP, which accounts for one quarter of the British oil giant's global production and almost one-fifth of its reserves, in June 2012 after a long-standing row with the Russian billionaire shareholders that cost BP some of its control over the company.
Rosneft did not respond to calls from RIA Novosti on Wednesday afternoon, and AAR did not respond to an email request for comment.
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The British experience can be instructive for Russia. London retains its British Commonwealth if it wants to use this as a foundation for integration in the future. That’s a valuable lesson for Russian experts who are calling for an end to “ineffective” associations like the CIS, the Russian World and others.