* Zielicki worked at Anglo-Russian oil firm since 2003
* Rosneft seeks to bulk up deal-making team
* State eyes buying into TNK-BP - sources
By Melissa Akin and Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW, July 20 Russian state oil firm Rosneft
may hire the former head of mergers and acquisitions
at TNK-BP, boosting its capacity to put together a
possible bid for the Anglo-Russian oil firm as its feuding
co-owners, BP and a group of Soviet-born tycoons, try to
dissolve their partnership.
Sources familiar with the matter said Krzysztof Zielicki, a
former BP vice president who served as head of M&A at
TNK-BP until a few weeks ago, could join Rosneft in the latest
in a string of hires from TNK-BP and the British major.
A Rosneft spokesman declined to comment. Zielicki, who had
worked at TNK-BP since BP came in as an investor in 2003, could
not be reached for comment. The sources said Rosneft was seeking
further hires to boost its deal-making capacity.
In June, Didier Casimiro, a former BP power trade executive
who worked for several years at TNK-BP, joined the Russian oil
company to take charge of downstream operations.
Earlier, Rosneft hired three executives who had done stints
at BP to manage its international operations, including its
prized Arctic joint ventures with ExxonMobil, Eni
At TNK-BP, Zielicki's team acquired new reserves for the
No.3 Russian oil company, mostly through international
acquisitions, and sold TNK-BP unit Udmurtneft to a joint venture
of Rosneft and China's Sinopec.
Under new Chief Executive Igor Sechin, a close ally of
President Vladimir Putin who was energy "tsar" in Putin's last
government, Rosneft may embark on an M&A spree which could
include a new bid to buy into TNK-BP.
Rosneft and BP last year staged a $32 billion bid to buy out
four Soviet-born tycoons who share control of TNK-BP with the
British major, in a an ultimately futile attempt to remove their
opposition to a BP-Rosneft drilling partnership.
BP's partners, grouped into the Alfa-Access-Renova (AAR)
consortium, rejected the deal at the last minute but said this
week they would be willing to sell out on the right terms.
Sources close to Rosneft and BP have suggested a return to
the failed buyout deal may be possible.
BP put its holding in TNK-BP up for sale last month after a
new outbreak of conflict with the billionaire shareholders, led
by retail-to-banking magnate Mikhail Fridman, who have said they
see their partnership with BP as unsustainable.
Under its shareholder agreement with the four tycoons, who
this week expressed their interest in buying half of BP'S stake,
BP must now enter "good faith" negotiations with them. BP can
talk to other potential buyers, but may not reach a deal with
anyone else for 90 days.
Some sources in Russia's state energy establishment have
said that state energy holding company Rosneftegaz, which
controls Rosneft, would be interested in principle in buying
The government, however, appears split on the issue and
First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said in a newspaper
interview last month he did not want a state company to buy BP's
stake in TNK-BP, but would welcome a buyout of BP by AAR.