BP conceded defeat in the auction yesterday of a $7.6 billion stake in Rosneft that had been held by the bankrupt company Yukos.

This allowed the state oil company to buy its own stock at a 10 per cent discount to the market value.

BP was the only alternative bidder to take part in the auction by the liquidator of Yukos. The bidding commenced at $7.47 billion.  A TNK-BP spokesman insisted that the company had been serious about winning but that the asking price had risen too high.

The bidding rose in increments of $10 million, but BP pulled out when it reached $90 million above the starting price. The value of the shareholding on the stock market yesterday was $8.4 billion. “We set a limit and once we reached that we chose not to proceed,” the spokesman said. “Accusations that the auction was a sham are absolute nonsense.”