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AAR Hires Rothschilds to Raise Funds for TNK-BP Buyout

The billionaire quartet that owns half of Anglo-Russian oil firm TNK-BP has hired Rothschilds Group to arrange loan syndication to buy out BP's 50 percent stake in the company, Kommersant said Monday.

Last week, the AAR consortium, which is led by retail-to-banking tycoon Mikhail Fridman, said it was interested in buying out BP's stake in TNK-BP after state oil major Rosneft expressed similar interest.

One source familiar with the matter told the newspaper that funding would likely be raised by TNK-BP, the joint venture, to buy out BP — which plans to sell out following disagreements over management and strategy with its partners. AAR may formalize its bid in mid-October.

The Russian government would not object if AAR increases its stake in TNK-BP, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich told the newspaper. He reiterated that Rosneft, as a state company, should not buy private companies.

TNK-BP, Russia's third-largest crude oil producer, has been caught in a tug of war between Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's government, which backs privatization, and Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin, who is seeking to build a national oil champion.

Rosneft said it wanted to buy BP's stake in TNK-BP for cash and stock, setting the stage for a bidding contest that would probably start at around $20 billion. Independent analysts say BP's stake in TNK-BP is worth around $25 billion.

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