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AFX News Limited / Forbes: TNK-BP CEO insists owners not selling shares

03.21.07, 7:14 AM ET

LONDON (AFX) – TNK-BP has reiterated that its shareholders, led by oil giant BP PLC, are not selling shares, denying a news report the owners may be forced to share control of the Russian joint venture with state-run companies like Gazprom and Rosneft.

BP owns 50 pct of TNK-BP, while the remaining 50 pct is held by Russian partner Alfa and Access/Renova.

‘I feel it necessary to explain again that all speculation about a possible change of TNK-BP’s shareholding structure is not true,’ said Robert Dudley, chief executive of TNK-BP, in a statement.

The article, carried by the UK’s Guardian newspaper, said the change in the joint venture’s ownership could come at the end of this year, when the lock-up period for the shares expires.

It came amid pressure from the Russian government for TNK-BP to hand over part of the Kovykta gas project in east Siberia to a local partner such as Gazprom.

Late last year, intense pressure from the Russian state forced Royal Dutch Shell PLC to cede control of the giant 20 bln usd Sakhalin-2 project to Gazprom.

Gazprom paid 7.5 bln usd to get a 50 pct plus one share in Sakhalin-2, halving Shell’s stake to 27.5 pct, Mitsui & Co Ltd to 12.5 pct, and Mitsubishi Corp to 10 pct.

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