MOSCOW – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said state-controlled oil giant OAO Rosneft's $55-billion acquisition of competitor TNK-BP was an exception to the government's privatization plan and that the state would continue to reduce its stake in the company.
Rosneft announced last month it was buying TNK-BP from BP PLC and its partners, the AAR group of tycoons, after several years of conflicts between the partners. The acquisition will increase the state's control of Russia's oil production to almost 50%.
The Russian government has said Rosneft should be sold off by 2016 as part of a broad privatization plan.
"The (TNK-BP) deal... is an exception and it came about, in my opinion, because of very trivial reasons. There was no need for the shareholders to argue," Mr. Medvedev said in an interview with Agence France Presse and Le Figaro, a transcript of which was posted on the Russian government's website Monday.
"We are not indifferent to who will buy one of the largest Russian oil companies. It suited us that the company belonged to Russian and British businessmen. But we pay great attention to who may take over. For this reason, when Rosneft showed interest in this asset, that suited us more than if some obscure player had appeared," he said.
Mr. Medvedev said the state will sell off its stake in Rosneft in stages and may at first keep a controlling stake.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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