Rosneft board member rejects criticism of TNK-BP buyout

MOSCOW Fri Oct 4, 2013 4:20am EDT

An illuminated sign is displayed in front of the local office of TNK-BP company in the Siberian city of Tyumen, January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko

An illuminated sign is 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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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Rosneft's (ROSN.MM) buyout of minority shareholders in TNK-BP Holding TNBP.MM is in line with the law and good corporate governance practice, a board member of the energy giant said On Friday, rejecting complaints that the price is not high enough.

Rosneft said on Monday it planned to buy out the remaining holders of ordinary shares in TNK-BP Holding for about $1.5 billion, at a rate of 67 roubles ($2.07) per share and 55 roubles per preferred share.

That was a fraction of the $3.70 a share analysts calculated that the majority owners received at the time of the $55 billion takeover of TNK-BP, in a worrying development for minority shareholders in Russian companies.

Shares in TNK-BP Holding, now renamed RN Holding, were trading up 0.47 percent at 63.50 roubles on Friday.

"One can always argue the price of any buyback," said Andrey Kostin, Rosneft's deputy chairman. "However, I believe the price should be defined by the market, and the market only. In this case, the price was determined on the basis of the average share price over the last 18 months."

Rosneft bought the TNK-BP holding company and its parent in a deal which closed earlier this year, creating the world's largest publicly traded oil company by output. Minority shareholders were left with about 5 percent.

Kostin, who is also CEO at Russia's second largest bank VTB, said Rosneft does not have any legal obligations to buy out the minority shareholders but was doing it voluntarily in response to demands from shareholders.

The buyback was in full compliance with both Russian and international legislation and in line with best international practice in corporate governance, he said.

"There will always be someone who is dissatisfied," said Kostin, who owns 111,876 Rosneft shares according to the oil company's website.

Sources close to the minority shareholders have told Reuters that they think Rosneft should pay them $2.8 billion, based on what it paid for its majority stake in TNK-BP.

Rosneft's powerful president, Igor Sechin, has already said the company has no obligation to buy the remaining shares and that the company is not a "charity fund".

But he changed his tone last week saying that the company would consider buying the shares at a 20 to 30 percent premium to the market price.

Sechin was quoted by Russian agency Interfax on Thursday as saying the offer to minority shareholders was final.

(Reporting by Megan Davies and Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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