BP to push through share swap next month

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The Independent Online

Oil giant BP is to push through its £10bn share-swap with Russia's Rosneft – but without the Arctic exploration agreement – despite last week's court ruling that blocked the deal.

BP sources said yesterday that it will try to put the share-swap to the arbitration process on 4 April, the day which allows either party to revisit the tribunal decision.

BP's deal with Rosneft, which has the backing of the Russian government, was thrown into disarray when a Swedish tribunal ruled last Thursday that its Arctic exploration deal would violate previous shareholder agreements with its joint partner, TNK-BP.

The four Russian billionaires who jointly own 50 per cent of TNK-BP – known as Alfa-Access-Renova, or AAR – have been trying to stop the deal since it was revealed amid much fanfare earlier this year. The four, Mikhail Fridman, Len Blavatnik, Viktor Vekselberg and German Khan, want all of BP's dealings in Russia to be conducted through their joint company as Rosneft is seen as a competitor.

But Rosneft, whose chairman is Igor Sechin, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister, is determined to plough ahead and said after the ruling that it was only an injunction which would be overcome.

BP's chief executive, Bob Dudley, is understood to see the latest legal spat as par for the course for pursing his ambition to gain access to the rich Arctic deposits and of doing business in Russia. One way out of the impasse would be for BP to compensate the four Russians to waive their rights under the BP-TNK shareholder deal.

Shares in BP gained 2.65p on Friday to close at 483.55, suggesting investors are confident Mr Dudley will get the deal done.