In an interview with the WSJ, Igor Sechin pointedly suggested that Rosneft would like a seat on the BP board of directors (in exchange for a seat on the Rosneft board).
Seats on the board aren’t an “oh by the way” kind of thing. They are the kind of thing that would normally be negotiated as part of a deal, and decided definitively before the deal was finalized. Moreover, the I’ll give you a seat if you give me one is hardly balanced, given that as part of the stock swap Rosneft gets 5 percent of BP but the British company gets 9.4 percent of Rosneft.
So what does Sechin’s suggestion mean? Is this hardball?: “Thanks for that deal. Now I want more.” With the implicit threat that if the request is not met Sechin and Rosneft may not be as accommodating as BP expected.
Or could this be a response to the BP’s difficulty with its TNK-BP partners? Sechin discussed these difficulties during the interview. One interpretation is that the board seat is Sechin’s price for making those troubles go away. Or at least part of the price.
And if this is what Sechin is doing, I have to wonder whether he might have a hand in exacerbating those difficulties. Perhaps not: perhaps he is just being opportunistic. That would be in character. But so would playing both sides against the middle.
Regardless, this rather audacious after-the-deal-is-supposedly-done proposal suggests that all will not be smooth sailing in the Rosneft-BP relationship.
Not that that should surprise anyone, least of all BP.