The Russo-British joint venture TNK-BP, whose anticipated share placement on the external markets in the coming years should be the largest after Rosneft three years ago, wants to expand its investor base in Asia, said the company’ s Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Muir in an interview with Reuter. “ I think many observers would say that capital is definitely going to become more and more accessible in the east. As part of the Eurobond programme we ran a non-deal road show in December and were in Asia, partly because we want to expand our investor base in Asia”, said Muir in the wings of a forum organized by Troika Dialog
In late January, Rusal – the world’ s largest aluminium producer – became the first Russian company to hold an IPO in Hong Kong, arousing the attractiveness of this trading floor for other large Russian companies with its less rigorous listing requirements than London or New York. Around five per cent of TNK-BP’ s main subsidiary TNK-BP Holding is currently traded, and the shareholders have agreed to hold an IPO for the parent company to improve liquidity by offering twenty per cent to the market. But the TNK-BP IPO should not be expected this year, thinks the company’ s CFO. “ I think we’ re unlikely to see an IPO before Maxim Barskiy takes over as head of the firm and sets out his plans for the company’ s future… (The IPO will be) not this year, I’ m sure,” said Muir. While declining to say which exchange would be used for the IPO, he said the company would select “ the best place in terms of access to capital and investor base”.
The placement would enable the shareholders – UK-based BP and a consortium of Russian billionaires consisting of Mikhail Fridman and German Khan’ s Alfa Group, Len Blavatnik’ s Access and Viktor Vekselberg’ s Renova – to raise almost $6 billion on the basis of the current capitalization of Russia’ s third biggest oil producer. Russia’ s MICEX and RTS indices have dropped 16 and 31% respectively from their peak in the spring of 2008, when the crisis had only just begun to affect Russia. Muir added that having recently placed $1 billion of Eurobonds the company could continue to borrow, but probably not through Euro loans. The Ministry of Finance stated on Wednesday that it would ask borrowers to hold back new issues until a new benchmark is set by the sovereign Eurobonds that Russia plans to issue in the spring of 2010 to raise up to $17.8 billion. “ The Russian government and others (borrowers) will be going to the markets later this year, that’ s why we took the opportunity earlier. Russian bonds are definitely a potential source of financing and we will consider it”, said Muir.
Executive Vice-President Barskiy is due to take over as head of the company in January 2011, after promising in an interview to Reuter in December to overtake LUKOIL, Russia’ s second— largest oil producer and the current leader amongst Russian private oil companies. TNK-BP plans to raise its oil production by approximately two per cent in 2010 to 71.8—72 million tons, and Muir said on Thursday that “ everything is going according to the plan”.