Rosneft offers to buy out small TNK-BP shareholders in cut-price deal
By Katya Golubkova
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian state oil major Rosneft (ROSN.MM: Quote) on Thursday offered to buy out small shareholders in TNK-BP Holding TNBP.MM but said it would pay less for the stock than the price at the time of the takeover in March.
Chief executive Igor Sechin said that Rosneft was not a "charity fund" when it bought TNK-BP and did not intend to buy out minority shareholders, raising complaints from them and questions from international investors about corporate governance in Russia.
Following the TNK-BP deal, Rosneft became the world's No. 1 oil producer by output, pumping 4.5 million barrels per day - nearly half of Russia's total - but its capitalization of $74 billion is a fraction of U.S. ExxonMobil's (XOM.N: Quote).
"They have had increasing pressure from minorities and there is clearly a lot of feedback that it is damaging the wider Russia franchise," said one trader at a Western bank in Moscow.
Rosneft Vice President Igor Maidannik said that while the company has no legal obligations towards TNK-BP shareholders, the state-owned giant's shares are sensitive to the situation.
"We don't have any obligations. It would be a voluntary offer or, if a decision on a reorganization is taken, a conversion. We will see," he told reporters at TNK-BP's annual shareholders meeting.
Maidannik said he preferred the idea of a share swap, because buyouts "usually don't lead to the desired result".
GLIMMER OF HOPE Continued...