The TNK billionaires, who agreed to sell out of their oil venture with BP Plc for $28 billion, said they planned to invest most of the proceeds in Russia after President Vladimir Putin said he “hoped” they would.
“Russia was and always will be the basic platform for investment” for the shareholders’ separate business interests, according to a statement yesterday from Mikhail Fridman and German Khan’s Alfa Group, Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries and Viktor Vekselberg’s Renova Group. “In Russia, in particular, they plan to invest most of the proceeds from selling their shares in TNK-BP.”
BP and AAR, which represents the billionaires in the TNK-BP oil venture, are ending a contentious, almost decade-long partnership, with each selling its half to state-run OAO Rosneft.
The deal, Russia’s largest ever, is set to vault Rosneft, run by Putin’s former deputy Igor Sechin, past PetroChina Co to become the world’s biggest publicly traded oil producer by volume.
Alfa, Access and Renova also “plan to increase their international presence as global players with a Russian registration,” according to the statement. At the same time, they praised measures by Russia’s leaders to attract investment.
Putin, who has backed an initiative to repatriate as much as $1 trillion, said last week that Russia should undertake “careful, civilised” measures to bring back capital from low- tax jurisdictions abroad.
While calling on the TNK billionaires to invest at home, Putin said they won’t be forced.
“If we recognised the lawful, legitimate owners, if they earned their money legally, then it’s their business where they invest,” the president said during a televised news conference on December 20. “I would very much like for them to invest the proceeds or a significant part in Russia’s economy.”
BP is selling its 50 per cent of TNK-BP for $17 billion and 12.8 per cent of Rosneft, while pledging to buy $4.8 billion of Rosneft stock from the state.
The AAR shareholders said they’ll get $28 billion in cash when the deal closes next year.