Russian oil giant OAO Rosneft is planning to announce as early as Tuesday that it has finalized an agreement with a group of Soviet-born billionaires to buy their 50% stake in oil venture TNK-BP for $28 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
Rosneft and the billionaires, known collectively as AAR, are exchanging documents related to the deal and, assuming no last-minute problems arise, an agreement could be announced Tuesday, the people said. The timing could still slip by a day or two, they cautioned, though it appears increasingly likely that the acquisition will take place. AAR is expected to receive its payment in a lump sum when the deal closes, say people familiar with the deal.
Rosneft and AAR announced an agreement in principle to do the deal in October and the two sides aimed to reach a final agreement last month.
In recent weeks, however, the possibility arose that no deal would be reached because of differences between the two sides over terms. Such fears were quelled somewhat when Rosneft's powerful Chief Executive Igor Sechin said recently that a deal would go forward.
A deal would follow a firm agreement in October that state-controlled Rosneft reached with BP PLC to buy the other half of the Russian oil venture in cash and stock valued at a similar sum to the pending AAR pact. Should Rosneft and AAR get their deal over the finish line, it would put the finishing touches on one of the largest mergers in recent years, valued at nearly $60 billion.
It also would represent the final chapter in a troubled but profitable relationship between BP and AAR, who have repeatedly clashed over governance of Russia's No. 3 oil company by output.
As a result of the two deals, Rosneft would gain control of around one-third of crude output in Russia – the world's largest energy producer – and cement its position as the world's largest oil company.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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