Russian investors in TNK-BP, BP's joint venture in that country, are asking a British court to block the $16 billion share swap between Europe's second-largest oil company and OAO Rosneft, a Russian state-run oil producer. TNK-BP is claiming it has exclusive rights to pursue business in Russia with BP.
Earlier this month, BP (BP) announced it would sell a 5% stake to Rosneft for $7.8 billion as part of a share exchange that will see the two companies partner to explore for oil in the Russian area of the Arctic Circle.
TNK-BP shareholders are demanding BP present the deal to TNK-BP because the 50-50 venture has exclusive rights to pursue opportunities on behalf of the London-based company, according to Bloomberg News. When news of the BP-Rosneft deal broke, press reports immediately speculated that TNK-BP could stand in the way of the agreement.
TNK-BP accounts for about 25% of BP's output and 20% of its total reserves. TNK-BP is not only seeking monetary compensation. The company is concerned BP's tie-up with Rosneft could place TNK-BP at a disadvantage in exploring for oil in Russia. The shareholders may seek a role in the Arctic venture, Bloomberg reported. There have been rumors that Rosneft wants to acquire TNK-BP's stake in BP, but TNK-BP has said its stake is not for sale.