TNK-BP board delays decision on BP-Rosneft deal

By Vladimir Soldatkin

MOSCOW (Reuters) – BP’s (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research) Russian joint venture, TNK-BP (TNBP.MM: Quote, Profile, Research), failed to resolve a shareholder row over joining the deal between BP and Rosneft (ROSN.MM: Quote, Profile, Research) before arbitration hearings start next week.

TNK-BP, half owned by BP and Russia-connected billionaires, said on Friday its board will meet again on March 12 in Paris to consider the management proposals to join the share swap and Arctic development deal between BP and Rosneft.

The board met in Berlin earlier in the day. At a meeting last week, the board postponed review of the deal after BP’s representatives failed to show up for the gathering.

“We hope that the next board of directors meeting will support the management’s recommendations and that TNK-BP’s management will be authorized to start negotiations with BP and Rosneft to participate in the Arctic deal and share swap,” TNK-BP’s CEO Mikhail Fridman said in a statement.

TNK-BP said last month it was interested in joining the Arctic exploration partnership between BP and Rosneft, Russia’s top oil company.

The BP-Rosneft deal, which also involves a $16 billion share swap, has drawn opposition from the group of Russia-connected tycoons who own half of TNK-BP.

They have claimed that BP violated a shareholder agreement by partnering with Rosneft and won an injunction in a London court, which froze the deal.

The final hearing in the international arbitration court is due the week of March 7.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)