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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Potanin: BP Dislikes Russian-Style Fights




Top Russian businessman Vladimir Potanin, BP Amoco's main partner in a high-profile shareholders' tussle, said Tuesday the British-American firm had trouble fighting Russian-style.


"BP is an oil company, not a military outfit. They don't feel comfortable in our wars - PR, legal and others ... that is the whole problem," Potanin, president of the Interros financial and industrial group and one of Russia's so-called oligarchs, said at a briefing.


"They cannot change their standards because of some project in Russia. ... I think [BP Amoco] should continue its work, but I can't say how tired BP Amoco is."


Potanin's Interros and BP Amoco both have stakes in the Sidanko oil company, whose production unit Chernogorneft was sold against their wishes at an auction last week.


Both investors have called the sale illegal, and it has become a test case for foreign investors.


Other shareholders and creditors of Sidanko and Chernogorneft include Soros investment funds, Harvard University's endowment and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.


Potanin attracted BP Amoco to Russia and said he now urged the firm to stay, fight for its rights and help lead Sidanko.


BP manages and holds 10 percent of the firm, and Interros holds 44 percent and controls more than 50 percent.


Potanin said that his group would continue a suit challenging the legality of the decision to sell Chernogorneft, bought by rival Tyumen Oil Co. for $176 million.


Sidanko is also bankrupt, and Potanin said he hoped Sidanko creditors would agree on a restructuring plan in a couple of weeks.


But he did not expect BP Amoco to maintain previous plans to increase Russian cooperation with Sidanko.


He said Sidanko would conclude a deal in a week or two to spin off far eastern companies such as the Angarsk refinery and give regional partners, including governors, controlling stakes.


Angarsk is of comparatively little interest to Sidanko as it was built to supply now-vacant military bases on the Chinese border and is far from centers of population or industry.


"We will move from absolute control to maintaining control through holding a blocking stake in partnership," he said.