By Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW, April 23 The head of Rosneft
said he would cooperate with minority shareholders in TNK-BP
Holding but warned Russia's top oil producer was not a
"charity fund", after investors complained of unfair treatment.
Igor Sechin, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said
Rosneft was in dialogue with shareholders, and waiting for
proposals from them, just months after saying he had no
obligation to them and would not offer a buyout on completion of
Rosneft's $55 billion purchase of TNK-BP.
"We will treat everyone with respect, but we also want you to
treat us with respect because we are a business unit, we are not
a charity fund," Sechin said in answer to a question at
Rosneft's investor meeting in London, which was webcast. "It's
important that you don't mix those two up."
Russian companies have had a chequered history regarding how
they treat minority investors. State-controlled bank VTB last
year bought back shares from investors who lost out having seen
their stock fall since a 2007 initial public offering, but the
offer only applied to small shareholders.
First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said last week
that Rosneft intended to resolve the problem and would be
respectful to minorities.
"We are prepared to work openly and if there are
constructive proposals we are happy to consider them," Sechin
said on Tuesday.
Rosneft bought the Anglo-Russian oil producer from BP, which
ended up with an almost 20-percent stake in Rosneft as a part of
the deal, as well as a consortium of four Soviet-born tycoons.
It acquired 95 percent in the traded unit, TNK-BP Holding,
of which minority shareholders still own almost 5 percent.
Veteran investor Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Franklin
Templeton's emerging markets group, said last week the TNK-BP
buy-out "is the kind of issue that gives pause for thought on
the behalf of investors coming to Russia".
Sources close to the minority shareholders previously told
Reuters they thought Rosneft should buy them out for $2.8
billion, based on what Rosneft paid for its stake in TNK-BP.
Sechin also said Rosneft's dividend policy was standard, at
25 percent of net profit. TNK-BP Holding used to pay dividends
at more than 70 percent of profit. Sechin did not comment on
what level TNK-BP minority shareholders could expect.
Shares of TNK-BP rose 3 percent on Tuesday but are still
about 40 percent below this year's January peak, before Rosneft
completed the purchase.