x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Rosneft inks $16bn first step to pay for BP stake

The Russian state-backed oil giant Rosneft has raised multibillion-dollar loans from global banks as it seeks funds for its US$55 billion acquisition of TNK-BP.

The Russian state-backed oil giant Rosneft has raised multibillion-dollar loans from global banks as it seeks funds for its US$55 billion (Dh202.01bn) acquisition of TNK-BP.

Rosneft has also agreed on a prepaid oil supply deal with traders Glencore International and Vitol Group, it said.

It has signed two loan agreements for $16.8bn with international banks to buy BP's half of TNK-BP, the Russian company said on Monday. The five-year supply deal may be worth $50bn with oil prices at $100 a barrel, according to Alexei Kokin, a senior energy analyst at UralSib Capital.

"It's not a coincidence that we're hearing about these at the same time," Mr Kokin said. "Rosneft is interested in trade financing and can use these contracts to secure additional bank loans."

BP and its billionaire partners in the TNK-BP venture signed binding agreements this quarter with Rosneft for the biggest sale ever in Russia, ending their fractious decade-long partnership. The deal will vault Rosneft past PetroChina and ExxonMobil to become the world's largest publicly traded oil producer, with output of more than 4 million barrels a day, based on third-quarter results.

Rosneft's shares rose as much as 2.3 per cent after announcing the deals, and closed up 1.1 per cent at 265.09 rubles in Moscow, the highest since April last year.

Supplies to Glencore and Vitol will reach as much as 67 million tonnes of crude over five years from the start of next year, according to a joint statement from the companies. That is 270,000 barrels a day or about 11 per cent of its current output.

"The price formula is in line with the prices that Rosneft receives for crude at medium-term tenders," said Igor Sechin, the Rosneft chief executive. Rosneft's press service did not immediately comment on the size of the prepayment from the oil contract or whether it would be used to fund the TNK-BP acquisition.

The supply deal is expected to start next year and may allow Rosneft to replace crude volumes with oil products, according to the company. A 100 per cent prepayment is unlikely, Mr Kokin said.

BP agreed to sell its half of TNK-BP for $17.1bn and 12.8 per cent of Rosneft, while also pledging to spend $4.8bn of the proceeds to buy more Rosneft stock from the Russian government. AAR, which represents the owners of the other half of the venture, said it would get $28bn in cash. Both deals will close in the first half of next year.

Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire partner in the AAR group, said this week the shareholders were considering new oil projects after the TNK sale to Rosneft. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, said last week he "hoped" they would invest their proceeds in Russia's economy.

A group of 15 international banks is lending $4.1bn for five years and $12.7bn for two years, Rosneft said. The lenders are Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Citigroup, Crédit Agricole, ING Groep, Intesa Sanpaolo, JPMorgan Chase, Mizuho Corporate Bank, Natixis, Nordea Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking, Société Générale and UniCredit.

Rosneft proposed a margin of 210 basis points over benchmark rates for a five-year syndicated loan and 175 basis points on a two-year bridge facility, two people with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be identified. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

Buying TNK-BP will give Rosneft production and reserves that surpass ExxonMobil, and make it the world's biggest publicly traded oil company, BP said in October. The UK oil major said after the acquisition, the Russian company would top Exxon in terms of barrels of oil equivalent produced per day (bpd) with 4.6 million bpd. The US company pumped 4.2 million bpd as of June with PetroChina producing 3.5 million bpd as of the end of last year.

The Russian giant wants BP's technology to extend the life of ageing fields, experience gained from Alaska to the North Sea and proven in Siberia at TNK-BP.

"BP's experience and effectiveness demonstrated in TNK-BP will allow us to also strengthen Rosneft," Mr Sechin said.

* with Bloomberg News