* Rosneft's $55 bln takeover of TNK-BP near to closing
* Fridman, Khan seen investing in energy, telecoms
* Sought advice from BP veterans, broached partnerships
By Melissa Akin, Katya Golubkova and Tom Bergin
MOSCOW/LONDON, March 13 Representatives of the
Alfa Group, set to earn billion of dollars from the sale of
Anglo-Russian oil venture TNK-BP, have sounded out former BP
CEOs John Browne and Tony Hayward about investing jointly in
international oil projects.
German Khan, one of four Soviet-born businessmen who shared
control of TNK-BP with BP for a decade, met Browne and
Hayward and other potential deal partners in London last month,
sources familiar with the discussions said.
Khan, who effectively heads TNK-BP and is Mikhail Fridman's
partner in the Alfa Group consortium, sought advice and broached
potential partnerships, according to the sources.
State oil company Rosneft is on the verge of
completing a $55 billion takeover of TNK-BP, creating
the world's largest publicly listed oil firm by output, pumping
the equivalent of 4.6 million barrels of oil per day.
The Alfa-Access-Renova consortium will receive a cash
consideration of $28 billion for their one-half stake in TNK-BP.
Alfa will get half of that and wants to reinvest much of the
money in oil and gas, as well as in telecoms, the sources said.
"Life after TNK-BP is getting closer - the three groups will
go their different ways. Alfa made their name in oil and gas and
telecoms, and intend to continue to do so," said one source.
The other two partners in AAR, mining tycoon Viktor
Vekselberg of the Renova Group and Len Blavatnik of Access
Industries, are likely to bow out and focus on other ventures
and charity work, sources close to TNK-BP and AAR said.
After he left BP, Hayward moved to Vallares, a cash shell
founded by financier Nat Rothschild which later bought Turkey's
Genel Energy, a producer focused on the autonomous
Iraqi region of Kurdistan.
Hayward now heads Genel Energy, while Brown, Hayward's
predecessor at BP, is a partner in Riverstone, a private equity
fund focused on energy, where he is co-head of renewables funds.
Browne joined forces with the tycoons to create TNK-BP in
2003 by pooling their oil assets in an unprecedented Russian
joint venture, which later descended into a struggle for control
and left Hayward, as BP CEO, to wage boardroom warfare with the
four men after Browne's departure.
Despite the row, the Russian tycoons were always respectful
of Browne and his successor Hayward, who later made peace with
Hayward did not respond to a phone call and a text message,
and Browne's office at Riverstone did not return a call. Alfa
representatives declined to comment.
LIFE AFTER TNK-BP
Alfa's investment in mobile network Vimpelcom helped
transform it into one of the world's largest telecoms operators
and launched Alfa on a series of sector investments.
The Russian tycoons' ambition to take their oil business
global was a big bone of contention with BP, which saw the
TNK-BP venture primarily as a way to tap the vast oil riches of
Russia, the world's top crude oil producer.
In the wake of a 2008 conflict in which current BP CEO Bob
Dudley, then CEO of TNK-BP, was forced to flee Russia, the
tycoons won BP's consent to invest in an Amazon exploration
venture and buy two BP units in Venezuela and Vietnam.
The 2008 conflict marked the decline of the partnership into
what BP officials came to term a "strategic misalignment"
between the partners, which ended with the sale of TNK-BP to
Rosneft, a deal due to conclude in the coming weeks.
BP will become a 20 percent shareholder of Rosneft, holder
of the world's largest liquid hydrocarbon reserves, and the
tycoons will for the most part be free to pursue their global
"There will be a lot of money left over. German (Khan) will
work on oil," said a source close to AAR.
Fridman is an experienced strategist with a flair for
corporate warfare, while Khan is known as a tough enforcer. Both
are veterans of the rough-and-tumble post-Soviet business world
with a high tolerance of risk.
Khan once told an interviewer that the Hollywood mafia epic
the "Godfather" was an "instructive film" and, according to
media reports citing Wikileaks, he carried a pistol to dinner.
More recently he has striven to restyle himself as an
international oil man, polishing his English and adopting a
natty dress style.
Some of the proceeds of the TNK-BP sale are likely to stay
in Russia, where the government is due to approve tax incentives
to deploy new oil industry technologies used in the U.S. shale
revolution, which could encourage smaller players to try their
luck alongside giants like TNK-BP.
Latin America could be an initial target for the oil
investments, while the fund's geographic scope will span North
and South America, Europe and Southeast Asia, the sources said.
(Additional reporting by Douglas Busvine in Moscow and Andrew
Callus in London; Writing by Melissa Akin; Editing by Tom