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BP to Delay Rosneft Swap While TNK-BP Suit Is Resolved

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Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc will delay a share swap agreement with OAO Rosneft while it resolves a dispute with Russian investors in TNK-BP through arbitration, a judge said.

The swap will be delayed through Feb. 25 until a lawsuit can be heard by private arbitrators in Stockholm, Justice Michael Burton said at a hearing in London today.

“The parties have sensibly achieved an agreement that accords entirely with good sense,” Burton said. “It will cause no apparent loss.”

The Russian billionaire owners of TNK-BP, represented by a group called AAR, are demanding BP present the Rosneft deal to TNK-BP because the 50-50 venture’s shareholder agreement gives TNK-BP an exclusive right to pursue new opportunities in Russia on behalf of the London-based company, according to court documents.

BP Chief Executive Officer Robert Dudley said that the decision to move arbitration with Russian joint venture partners at TNK-BP was “good news.” The arbitration will be “fast-track,” Dudley told analysts on a conference call.

Arbitration may start in the week of Feb. 14 and a decision is possible by Feb. 25, said Stan Polovets, chief executive officer of AAR.

BP agreed on Jan. 14 to swap a $7.8 billion stake in the company for 9.5 percent of Russian state oil producer Rosneft. The two companies also agreed to explore an area of Russia’s Arctic waters about the size of the U.K. North Sea.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Lumley in London at jlumley1@bloomberg.net. Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

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