March 22 - British oil company BP announced on Friday an $8 billion (5.26 billion pounds) share buy-back programme, acting swiftly on its promise to reward investors after it sold its stake in its Russian unit, TNK-BP. Edward Baran reports.
Oil giant BP says it will buy back 8 billion dollars of shares in a boost to investors. The British company is acting on a promise to reward shareholders after it sold its stake in TNK-BP BP completed the sale of its half-owned Russian unit to Rosneft on Thursday. The deal also gives it a near 20 per cent stake in Rosneft and makes the Russian state oil firm the world's largest listed crude producer Bob Dudley is BP's CEO. SOUNBDITE, Bob Dudley, BP CEO (English), saying: "I think this is the beginning today of a great partnership between BP and Rosneft, and we are extremely pleased to now be nearly a 20 percent shareholder in Rosneft. It's a historic day, I think today begins to reshape the oil and gas industry internationally." BP originally put money into TNK-BP ten years ago. The company says the share buy-back programme is pay back for that investment. PTC: Shares in BP climbed almost three per cent after the announcement, making the company one of the biggest risers in London's bluechip index. It's a move analysts are attributing to the bigger than expected cash return. Kevin Allison from Reuters Breaking Views says this could finally be a turning point for BP three years after the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. SOUNDBITE, Kevin Allison is from Reuters Breaking Views: "The fact that it was more than expected at a time when BP is still under this cloud of the Gulf coast oil spill legal tussle suggests that BP's confident about the future and I think that explains the little bump in the share price today." BP says it expects the buy back programme to take between 12 to 18 months to complete The tie-up with Rosneft will keep BP in Russia, allowing it to continue to explore and exploit the country's vast energy resources, including in the key Arctic region.