UPDATE 1-TNK-BP keeps dividend decision on hold

* No dividends yet paid this year

* TNK-BP gives green light to Rospan gas project

(Adds further details) By Vladimir Soldatkin

MOSCOW, Oct 5 (Reuters) - TNK-BP's directors held back from deciding on a dividend payout at their meeting on Friday, with the Russian oil company saying only that the matter would be discussed "over the coming weeks", when bidding is expected to be underway for BP's 50 percent stake.

In July a $1 billion proposed interim payout on this year's profits was blocked by BP's billionaire Soviet-born partners in a long saga of disputes over the running of Russia's third-biggest oil producer.

"The board will consider the recommendation and the issue of dividends more broadly over the coming weeks," TNK-BP said in a statement after the board meeting on Friday.

Last year TNK-BP paid dividends totalling $7.5 billion, split equally between BP and the Russian partners and in the nine years since BP formed the joint venture it has reaped $19 billion in dividends, nearly triple its original investment.

But BP put its stake up for sale in June after another collapse in shareholder relations, prompting acquisitive state-controlled oil company Rosneft to say it would like to buy the stake. The AAR consortium representing shareholders Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, Viktor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik then pitched in saying it too would like BP's stake.

AAR has said it will make an offer by Oct. 17, the end of a 90-day period when AAR had exclusive rights to make an offer.


On Friday TNK-BP also said the development of the Rospan gas project received board support, "with final approval expected next week" for full-field development of the licence areas, which would double TNK-BP's gas output.

(Editing by Megan Davies and Greg Mahlich)

((vladimir.soldatkin@thomsonreuters.com)(+7 495 775 12 42)(Reuters Messaging: vladimir.soldatkin.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: RUSSIA TNK BP/