Rosneft moves closer to TNK-BP deal with EU clearance

BRUSSELS Fri Mar 8, 2013 12:34pm EST

A car drives past an illuminated sign displayed in front of the local office of TNK-BP company in the Siberian city of Tyumen, January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko

A car drives past an illuminated sign displayed in front of the local office of TNK-BP company in the Siberian city of Tyumen, January 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Eduard Korniyenko

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Russian oil producer Rosneft (ROSN.MM) moved closer to finalizing 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 (BP.L) in two separate deals that will help it leapfrog world No. 1 Exxon Mobil (XOM.N).

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 behavior 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.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Ben Deighton and Helen Massy-Beresford)

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