July 24th Rosneft officially announced its interest in acquiring BP’s stake in TNK-BP. BP decided to exit the highly lucrative joint venture after several years of tensions with AAR, a consortium of Russian billionaires owning the other 50% in TNK-BP. AAR is already in talks with BP about a possible deal.
Analysts say the situation might end up as an alliance between BP and Rosneft to develop Arctic shelf. The previous cooperation attempt of two companies was blocked by AAR, which perceived the alliance as a violation of shareholder agreement between AAR and BP.
According to that agreement, BP needs AAR’s sanction to disclose any confidential information about TNK-BP to third parties and must conduct 90 days of «good faith» negotiations with AAR.
In fight with BP and Rosneft, oligarchs from AAR might look for support from Russian government. Any deal with state-owned Rosneft needs to be approved both by Russian antitrust authorities and Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev.
The possible deal between BP and Rosneft will continue the trend of growing government control over Russian oil industry, started by YUKOS case. However, participants of AAR, unlike shareholders of YUKOS, are likely to receive a generous compensation for their assets.
VTB President Andrey Kostin
In a BBC interview with Stephen Sackur, President of VTB Bank Andrey Kostin says that when it comes to former Yukos chairman Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s time in prison, “enough is enough.”
When pressed by Sackur, the Russian banker somewhat surprisingly (given his ties to Putin) says that Khodorkovsky should be set free and agrees with the interviewer that his release would be symbolically important, giving confidence to foreign investors.
To watch the whole interview, click here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/hardtalk/9736303.stm.
As the Putin regime continues its crackdown on the growing opposition movement, a former KGB comrade of the president is now in trouble, with his family business “all but ruined by a blizzard of state inspections,” writes Fred Weir in the Christian Science Monitor.
Gennady Gudkov, a businessman and member of the “loyal opposition” in the Duma has been speaking at recent protests in the capital, hoping, as Weir reports, “to steer the protesters toward peaceful and constructive engagement with the authorities.”
But the Kremlin doesn’t see it that way. Russian bureaucrats have targeted his security firm, which has recently been visited by the police, fire department and the Moscow architectural control committee, leading to the suspension of its license for employees to carry guns and forcing him to sell his company at a loss.
“I took the path of Khodorkovsky,” Gudkov said, “and now I am really afraid.”
Read more here.