UPDATE 1-Rosneft moves closer to TNK-BP deal with EU clearance

Fri Mar 8, 2013 12:33pm EST

* EU Commission says no competition concerns

* Says no conditions required

* $55 bln deal is one of the biggest in the sector

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, March 8 (Reuters) - Russian oil producer Rosneft moved closer to finalising its $55 billion takeover of TNK-BP <TNBP.MM after winning EU regulatory approval for one of the biggest deals in the sector.

State-owned Rosneft is buying TNK-BP from private Russian group AAR and British oil company BP in two separate deals that will help it leapfrog world No. 1 Exxon Mobil .

Reuters last week reported the European Commission was expected to give unconditional approval.

The EU antitrust authority said in a statement that its investigation did not find any competition concerns.

"The merged entity would continue to face constraints from a number of strong competitors, while its customers would be capable of switching both to other suppliers as well as to other means of transportation for their crude oil demands," it said.

The EU executive said it had also examined Rosneft's state ownership status to see if it was an independent operator or whether there was scope for Russia to coordinate the behaviour of state-owned companies in the sector.

"This question was ultimately left open as the proposed acquisition did not give rise to competition concerns," it said.

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