UPDATE 1-EU to approve Rosneft, TNK-BP deal next week -source

Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:26pm GMT

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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS Feb 26 (Reuters) - Russian oil producer Rosneft is expected to win unconditional European Union regulatory approval for its TNK-BP takeover bid, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, taking it closer to completing the $55 billion deal.

State-owned Rosneft is buying TNK-BP from private Russian group AAR and British oil company BP in two separate deals, one of the biggest takeovers in the sector that will put it ahead of current world No. 1 Exxon Mobil.

"The European Commission is expected to clear this unconditionally as there are no competition issues and no major overlaps," said the person, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The European Commission's spokesman for competition policy, Antoine Colombani, said the investigation into the takeover was ongoing. The EU competition authority has set a March 8 deadline for its decision. Rosneft's own timetable foresees a March 7 decision.

BP declined to comment on the timing of any regulatory approval. "The sale is subject to regulatory approval. We expect to complete in the first half of the year," a BP spokesman said.

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