BP has told President Vladimir Putin it wants to buy a stake in Russian state oil giant Rosneft , adding a new dimension to a long-running struggle for control of a big chunk of Russian oil production.
The proposal put by BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley and Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg would be part of a complex deal in which Rosneft would take BP's stake in the $60 billion (36.8 billion pounds) TNK-BP venture, the Anglo-Russian oil producer 50 percent-owned by BP, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin said on Friday.
A BP spokesman said any purchase would be contingent on the planned sale of its TNK-BP stake going through.
"BP is considering further investment in Russia regardless of who we sell our stake to," the spokesman said by email. "Therefore if we are successful in selling our stake in TNK-BP then we would be interested in investing some of the proceeds in buying shares in Rosneft."
BP's management proposed the deal during a meeting with Putin this week, in which they assured Russia's president that any proceeds of a sale in TNK-BP would be reinvested in Russian projects, including Rosneft itself, Sechin said.
BP is seeking to exit its troubled but lucrative investment in TNK-BP, Russia's third-largest oil company, which it formed with a consortium of Russian tycoons nearly a decade ago to tap the country's vast energy reserves.
In July, BP entered a 90-day period to talk to potential buyers including the AAR consortium which represents the tycoons. That period ends in mid-October.
Sechin said AAR had not offered to sell its stake in TNK-BP but he would be willing to discuss a purchase if one was made.
He added Rosneft has no plans itself to buy shares in BP.
A deal to release BP from the antagonistic partnership would open the door for the British major to invest in other opportunities in Russia. BP's original bid to drill for oil in the Arctic with Rosneft was vetoed last year by its local partners.
Rosneft's plans to buy the TNK-BP stake have been progressing and it is talking to banks about raising $15 to $20 billion to finance the deal, bankers told Reuters this week.
Russia's Kommersant reported on Thursday that a deal structure being discussed would see Rosneft buy 25 percent of TNK-BP's shares for $10-$15 billion in cash, with another 25 percent to be acquired with Rosneft shares.
As part of the deal, BP would receive a stake of at least 12.5 percent in Rosneft, Kommersant reported.
The structure of a deal has not yet been fully developed, Sechin said, a position also corroborated by BP sources.
Analysts have speculated that the unwinding of the TNK-BP partnership could be done in several ways, involving either BP or the AAR quartet of billionaires - Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, Viktor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik - selling their stake.
Sechin is a close ally of Putin and his comments, made at a forum in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi, stole the limelight from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev who is hosting the event.
There have been increasing signs that Russia's leader has been losing patience with his second-in-command. Putin issued a rare rebuke of Medvedev's government at Sochi on Tuesday, by criticising its fiscal plans.
(Reporting by Melissa Akin, Denis Pinchuk and Katya Golubkova; Writing by Megan Davies; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Andrew Callus)