Gazprom to buy control of TNK-BP for $20 billion: report

MOSCOW Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:08am EDT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) will buy majority control of oil major TNK-BP TNBPI.MM, which is half owned by BP (BP.L), for $20 billion by the end of the year, the Vedomosti daily reported on Thursday.

The newspaper cited unidentified sources close to the management of both companies.

Analysts have long speculated that the shareholders of TNK-BP, which is half owned by both BP and a group of Russian billionaires, will be forced to sell out to a state firm with close ties to the Kremlin such as Gazprom or Rosneft.

Vedomosti citied an unidentified source close to one of the owners of TNK-BP as saying that Gazprom had offered to buy out the Russian owners at the start of this year.

Gazprom sources cited by the newspaper said the gas giant had also reached a deal to buy a 1 percent stake in TNK-BP from BP. A BP source denied this, the paper reported.

A spokesman for Gazprom declined immediate comment.

(Reporting by Simon Shuster, Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Erica Billingham)

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