Billionaires Say BP’s 50-50 Russian Venture Has ‘Run Its Course’

BP Plc’s billionaire partners in Russia’s third-biggest oil producer may be ready to dissolve the equal ownership structure of TNK-BP as tensions mount between the shareholders.

“One thing that’s clear is that the 50-50 arrangement has run its course and it’s time to realign the ownership structure,” Stan Polovets, the CEO of AAR, which represents the billionaires, said in an phone interview broadcast on Russian state television channel RT.

The AAR partners want to remain investors in the oil industry, either becoming controlling owners in TNK-BP or “significant shareholders” in BP itself, Polovets said.

BP sought to buy out AAR last year in a $32 billion deal with state-run OAO Rosneft to overcome the billionaires’ challenge to their planned share swap and Arctic exploration deal. AAR rejected the bid, and the BP-Rosneft alliance collapsed. TNK-BP’s management provided a report on seeking damages from BP in relation to the alliance to the board of directors in December. The board hasn’t met since then.

BP will discuss any proposals from AAR directly with them, Toby Odone, a spokesman for BP in London, said today in an e-mail.

AAR’s supervisory board consists of Mikhail Fridman, who this week resigned as TNK-BP CEO; Victor Vekselberg and German Khan, who are management board members at the oil venture; and Len Blavatnik, the founder of Access Industries.

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