TNK-BP to Vote on BP-Rosneft at Board Meeting

MOSCOW (Dow Jones Newswires), Feb. 18, 2011

The management at Anglo-Russian oil joint venture TNK-BP has told the board of directors it is interested in joining an alliance between BP and Rosneft, TNK-BP said Friday.

The board of TNK-BP plans a vote on the matter Feb. 25.

The fate of U.K. oil major BP's $16 billion share swap deal and Arctic development with Russia's state oil producer Rosneft remains unsettled, after the board of BP's Russian unit TNK-BP Friday said the issue needs further review.

BP and Rosneft agreed last month to a share swap and joint development of three offshore Arctic licenses, but BP's Russian partners in TNK-BP--the Alfa-Access-Renova consortium, or AAR--launched legal charges against BP, saying the deal violates the TNK-BP shareholder agreement.

AAR won a court injunction earlier this month temporarily blocking the deal, which was blessed by Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and top Russian energy official Igor Sechin.

On Friday, TNK-BP's board reviewed the material BP presented to the management in late January.

"Based on the documents presented to TNK-BP by BP concerning its strategic alliance with Rosneft, management informed the board of its potential interest in participating in the alliance," TNK-BP said in a statement.

The company said the discussion "was preliminary in nature," and that the board agreed to continue the talks.

TNK-BP's board will vote on the proposal to join the BP-Rosneft venture at an extraordinary board meeting on Feb. 25, an AAR spokesman said.

The three independent directors at TNK-BP's board are Gerhard Schroeder, former German Chancellor, Alexander Shokhin, chairman of Russia's biggest business lobby and James Leng, a senior adviser to HSBC Holdings PLC. The three directors still haven't reached an unanimous decision on the matter, but have hired an independent consultant to advise on the issue, a person familiar with the issue said.

BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley, who headed TNK-BP for five years until 2008, said earlier that the court injunction wouldn't change anything about the Arctic exploration deal agreed with Rosneft and would merely result in a "time out" in continuing talks.

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