Russia’s Rosneft Sale to Balance TNK-BP Purchase, Shuvalov Says

Russia’s sale of OAO Rosneft shares will counter the oil producer’s potential “multilayered” acquisition of BP Plc’s Russian venture, keeping the state’s influence over the oil industry from ballooning, according to First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov.

Russia plans to reduce its 75 percent stake in Rosneft selling shares in 2013 and 2014, Shuvalov told reporters today in Moscow. Russia will move “very cautiously, taking care about the quality of the investor and of course seeking the highest proceeds from the sale,” he said.

Rosneft offered to buy BP’s half of the oil venture with cash and shares amounting to about $25 billion to $28 billion and has preliminary accord to acquire the half held by the U.K. explorer’s billionaires partners, who are also seeking $28 billion, people with knowledge of the plans said Oct. 17. BP’s board is set to consider the bid today, one of the people said.

“If you look at the reaction of the TNK-BP shareholders to the proposals from Rosneft, you’ll see the deal has many layers and many stages,” said Shuvalov, who has pushed for state asset sales. “It’s much more complex than simply saying the government is expanding its influence.”

BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley proposed using some proceeds, if the sale of its TNK-BP stake to Rosneft is successful, to buy some state-held shares in the oil company and develop projects in Russia, while meeting in September with President Vladimir Putin and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin in Sochi, on the Black Sea.

Russia’s government hasn’t yet made any decision on selling Rosneft shares to BP, Shuvalov said at the time. He declined today to comment on a share sale to BP.

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