What's often referred to as "BP's
However, while watching BP's latest dustup in Russia, I'm beginning to wonder whether there just might be a dearth of common sense in the company. As a result of its latest tussle with its billionaire Russian partners in the TNK-BP venture (who operate through a holding company known as AAR), BP is being prevented from completing a partnership with Russia's big Rosneft state oil company.
You likely knew that. But did you know that, as The Wall Street Journal has put it, the company "signaled it is beginning preparation to sell part of its stake in conflict-plagued Russian venture TNK-BP Ltd. to OAO Rosneft in a bid to salvage a landmark cooperation deal with the Russian state oil company … "? Or, depending on your sources, BP may have no such intention.
The Journal's use of the word "landmark" refers to the structure of the proposed BP-Rosneft deal, which would have the companies swap a total of $16 billion, such that BP would gain a 9.5% stake in Rosneft, while the Russian company would obtain a 5% interest in its new partner. The pair would then cooperate in exploring the promising Russian Arctic.
However, before the ink was dry on the paperwork, the AAR oligarchs ran to a British court and succeeded in blocking it. In an effort to remove the roadblock, BP and Rosneft offered $32 billion for AAR's half interest in TNK-BP. But that was thwarted when AAR wouldn't stand down on its legal claims -- which leaves me scratching my head, since the precise reason for the sizable offer was the elimination of those legal obstacles.
Today, confusion rules among the parties. Under the TNK-BP shareholder agreement, a notification by BP that it intends to make an offer for AAR's stake would set off a number of mandatory 75- and 90-day periods designated for the consideration of counteroffers and other negotiations. Don't be surprised if Rosneft ultimately throws up its hands and solicits expertise in its arctic efforts from the likes of Royal Dutch Shell
Before concluding, let me note that my reference above to a scarcity of common sense at BP refers to CEO Bob Dudley having earlier held the same position at TNK-BP. To call that experience unpleasant is to maximize understatement. As such, the longer BP remains in that contentious partnership, the more we can question its sense.
In the meantime, Foolish energy investors should simply observe the maneuvers undertaken by BP and the others involved in the Russian drama. Placing BP on your watchlist will provide you with something of an armchair seat for this wacky chain of events.
We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't have financial interests in any of the companies named in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.