Putin backs BP's sale plan for TNK-BP - FT

LONDON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Russian president Vladimir Putinbacks BP's plan to sell its 50 percent stake in TNK-BP

to the state oil group Rosneft , theFinancial Times reported on Wednesday, citing an interview withRosneft's chief executive, Igor Sechin.

Sechin said, without giving a full direct quote, thatPresident Putin endorsed the idea at a meeting in Russia lastmonth with BP's top executives.

"(Rosneft) will have the opportunity to acquire a strategicinvestor...so we do support this, and the president also spokein support of this," Sechin is quoted as saying.

Sechin said, however, that Putin stressed it was ultimately"up to BP shareholders" to decide on the deal.

"Considering the fact that Rosneft is a strategiccompany...the main parameters of the deal have to be agreed withthe presidential administration," he said.

The four billionaires who co-own Russian oil venture TNK-BPand want to buy out partner BP told the British company they mayinstead sell their half of the $50 billion business.

(Reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

((stephen.mangan@thomsonreuters.com)(+44 0 20 7542 7931))