TNK-BP Won't Try for Stake in Petrom

TNK-BP has decided against placing a preliminary bid in the privatization of Romanian oil company SNP Petrom, the Romanian economy ministry said Wednesday.

A spokesman for the ministry said TNK-BP - which is half owned by U.K. oil major BP PLC - paid a $20,000 fee to review Petrom's books, but later told Economy and Trade Minister Dan Ioan Popescu in a letter that it would not make a preliminary bid.

Last month, the government selected 11 companies it said were suitable to take part in Petrom's sell-off. They were TNK-BP; Poland's PKN Orlen SA; Hungary's MOL; Austria's OMV AG; U.S. companies ConocoPhillips, Occidental Oil & Gas Corp. and Alon Inc.; Russia's OAO Gazprom; Italy's Eni SpA ; Hellenic Petroleum SA and Switzerland's Glencore .

Currently, 7% of Petrom's shares are traded publicly. The government owns the remaining 93% stake and wants to reduce its holding by selling a 33.34% stake to a trade buyer. The winning bidder would then be obliged to raise its interest to 51% by taking up an additional share capital increase.

The deadline for receiving preliminary bids for Petrom is November 21.