AAR, belligerent Russian shareholders in TNK-BP

© RIA Novosti . Ilya Pitalev / Go to the mediabankTNK-BP
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A standoff between BP and Russian shareholders of its local venture TNK-BP threatens the future of a $16 billion deal between BP and Rosneft which is supposed to help BP recover after its Gulf of Mexico disaster.

A standoff between BP and Russian shareholders of its local venture TNK-BP threatens the future of a $16 billion deal between BP and Rosneft which is supposed to help BP recover after its Gulf of Mexico disaster.

The deal was masterminded by Igor Sechin, Russia's powerful deputy prime minister, energy tsar and close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and aimed to make Rosneft a global company.

Rosneft is supposed to exchange 9.5% of its stock for 5% in BP. BP also agreed to provide $1.2-2 billion in finance exploration and development of oil in the Russian Arctic as well as offer technologies Russia lacks.

The AAR consortium, which represents four billionaires of Russian origin and owns half of TNK-BP, contested the contract which was subsequently suspended indefinitely, as it violated a shareholder agreement between BP and TNK-BP.

The Alfa Access Renova consortium:

* AAR is led by Mikhail Fridman, Russia's third richest man with a $12.7 billion fortune according to Forbes magazine. In the late 1990s, he bought Tyumen Oil Company, which later became TNK, from the government and in 2003 organized a merger between it and BP's assets in Russia. He is now TNK-BP CEO. The company is Russia's third largest by production and is one of the world's top 10 oil firms.

Rumored to have started his business empire by selling theatre tickets, Fridman now presides over Alfa Group, an oil to water supplies conglomerate.

Apart from the stake in TNK-BP, it embraces Russia's largest private bank Alfa-Bank, investment and fund managing firms and the A1 commodity trader, which has recently became an investment company.

It is also a majority shareholder in X5, Russia's largest retailer, whose brands include Pyaterochka, Perekryostok, Kopeika and Karusel grocery chains. Alfa Group is a core shareholder in Russia's leading cell phone companies VimpelCom, which operates the Beeline trademark, and MegaFon as well as Kyivstar in Ukraine and Turkcell in Turkey.

In media, Alfa Group owns CTC-Media which manages CTC and Domashny television channels.

It is likely to have reached your home if you live in Russia - when you turn on the tap, it is likely that it is Alfa's Rosvodokanal which supplies you with water.

* Viktor Velkselberg, an energy and metals magnate worth $6.4 billion, became famous in 2004, when he bought nine Faberge Easter eggs belonging to the Forbes family for $900 million.

He left his position as TNK-BP director last year after President Dmitry Medvedev had invited him to oversee the creation of a new high-tech hub in Skolkovo, near Moscow.

His Renova group has invested in renewable energy projects and holds a stake in leading Swiss technology firm Oerlikon, which makes a range of products from coatings used in Formula One racing cars to machines used to make solar cells.

The tycoon also has stakes in the world's largest aluminum producer RusAl and Swiss engineering group Sulzer, while his metals interests include United Manganese of Kalahari. Renova also owns internet and television provider Akado.

* Len Blavatnik, $7.5 billion owner of Access Industries industrial group, was brought to the United States as a teenager but still has extensive interests in Russia.

He was the first to convert his Soviet-era links and wealth into large assets in Europe and the U.S. and became a middleman between Western capital and a new generation of Russian entrepreneurs in the early 1990s.

Blavatnik's business interests stretch from the U.S. to India but the core component of his wealth is a stake in LyondellBasell, one of the world's largest plastics, chemical and refining companies. In Russia, he also owns a stake in RusAl.

* German Khan is the fourth tycoon of the consortium, TNK-BP's executive director with a $8.2 billion fortune. Khan is a good example of how important it is to make the right friends - Khan, a Kiev native, came to Moscow to study. In 1989, he and his college buddies Fridman and Alexei Kuzmichyov started Alfa Eco commodities firm, now A1. Two years later they launched Alfa-bank. Khan and Kuzmichyov now share Alfa Group ownership with Fridman.

MOSCOW, April 14 (RIA Novosti)

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