TNK-BP, Russia's third-largest oil producer, is a joint venture between BP and AAR, a consortium of Russian billionaire shareholders. The company has been mired in a corporate dispute after AAR blocked a BP's deal with Russian oil company Rosneft. BP said in a statement Friday that it has received "unsolicited indications of interest" for its share in TNK-BP and is looking to pursue a potential sale which is "consistent with BP's commitment to maximizing shareholder value."
BP's spokesman in Russia, Vladimir Buyanov, told The Associated Press that the information about the potential buyer is confidential. He declined to specify whether the offer might have come from the Russian shareholders. Buyanov said the shareholders' agreement between BP and AAR requires both parties to notify the other of offers to acquire their holdings. BP, however, stressed that "there can be no guarantee that any transaction will take place."
AAR has previously indicated that it could be interested in raising its stake in TNK-BP. AAR's spokesman in Moscow declined to comment any aspect of BP's announcement. TNK-BP's CEO Mikhail Fridman, one of the members of AAR, unexpectedly stepped down on Monday. In an interview with the Russian daily Kommersant he cited tensions between the shareholders as a reason for his departure and said the parity ownership of TNK-BP no longer works.