TNK-BP Worried About BP/Rosneft Deal

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TNK-BP, the joint venture between Europe's second-largest oil company and Russian investors, is protesting the British oil giant's deal with OAO Rosneft, a Russian state-run oil producer, saying the deal could represent TNK-BP's shareholder agreement with BP.

Last week, BP (BP) agreed to sell a 5% stake in itself to Rosneft for $7.8 billion. A legal team representing TNK-BP's Russian partners is examining the deal with Rosneft for potential breaches of its shareholder agreement with BP, the Financial Times reported. The legal team says TNK-BP and BP agreed that all new business in Russia and Ukraine would flow through TNK-BP, the FT reported.

Prior to BP's deal with Rosneft, which will see the companies partner to boost oil production in the Arctic Circle, there was speculation in Russia that Rosneft would move to buyout the TNK-BP partners. The legal team representing the Russian investors has said its stake is not for sale.

BP and Rosneft have been trying to form an Arctic partnership for several years, but the current agreement is ''non-binding protocol,'' according to a person familiar with the matter cited by the FT. TNK-BP representatives have said they will have to review the agreement before deciding if they want to participate.