BP still hasn’t sold its stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft

For months, the exceptional tax has been at the center of discussions on BP. But behind closed doors, another scandal is brewing.

The FTSE 100 giant has still not let go of its stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft, despite promising an exit nine months ago.

Last night campaigners and politicians attacked him for his ‘business as usual’ approach and his ‘shocking’ inability to quit or sell investing.

‘As usual’: FTSE 100 giant BP still hasn’t let go of its stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft – despite promising an exit nine months ago

BP, which has owned nearly 20% of the Russian state-backed energy company since 2013, promised to sever ties in February following the invasion of Ukraine.

BP’s representatives on the Rosneft board, chief executive Bernard Looney and former boss Bob Dudley, quickly resigned. It was good that Looney had said a few weeks earlier that the £88billion group was ‘engaged’ with Russia.

The British company took a one-time £18.7bn hit by writing Rosneft’s stake off its books, but it still owns the shares and refuses to say how or when that will change.

It’s unclear who he might be selling to because the West has sanctions on Russia, and bidders from other countries may also not want to get involved.

Rosneft also taunted BP from afar, with Rosneft boss Igor Sechin pushing Looney in October by saying the company should reconsider its stance.

Sechin said: “Despite all the rhetoric, BP remains, I would say, a ‘shadow’ shareholder.”

He added that he could “only warmly advise our colleagues at BP to remove the question of exiting assets from Russia from the agenda”.

Sechin said Rosneft had set aside a £600million dividend for BP in a separate Russian account, which he could still claim. BP has reported a total of £3.75 billion in dividends from Rosneft since 2013.

Lord Teverson, who sits on the House of Lords’ International Relations and Defense Committee, said: “It is shocking that BP has not completely rid itself of its relationship with Russia.”

BP's representatives on the Rosneft board - chief executive Bernard Looney (pictured) and former boss Bob Dudley - resigned after the Ukraine invasion

BP’s representatives on Rosneft’s board – chief executive Bernard Looney (pictured) and former boss Bob Dudley – resigned after the invasion of Ukraine

BP has told the world it is getting rid of its Rosneft stake. Instead, he’s still involved with a corporation that funds the Russian war machine.

Financier-turned-activist Bill Browder said: “BP is still deeply connected. Surely there is no appetite to leave other than being forced by outside events and shameful public relations if they don’t.

“I can imagine that the Russians don’t make it easy for them. But there’s nothing ‘dark’ about it – they own 19.75% of Rosneft whether or not they took the accounting hit.

“BP should do what they said they should do and divest from Russia, and not do anything that shows support for Vladimir Putin or his murderous war in Ukraine.”

Others withdrew from Russia, including Shell, which abandoned a major gas project called Sakhalin 2. But Morningstar analyst Allen Good said such exits were simpler because companies only had to abandon individual projects.

The saga comes as oil and gas companies have been targeted for a higher windfall tax on North Sea profits. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt raised the energy profit tax to 35% in the recent mini-budget, from 25% previously.

It is unclear how much BP will pay. While rising commodity prices boosted revenue, it posted a staggering £7.1billion profit in the three months to September.

BP said: “BP’s position is unchanged. In February, we announced our decision to leave Rosneft and other Russian companies. We continue to pursue this, we have no further comments on progress.

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. hasnt sold stake Russian oil giant Rosneft

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