[RUSSIA] Bristish Petroleum, clash with billionaires in Russia getting personal

British oil company Bristish Petroleum on Friday rejected demands from a group of Russian billionaires to fire the head of the lucrative TNK-BP natural gas venture, deepening a confrontation between shareholders as the country's biggest state-controlled oil companies seek a stake in the venture.

Tensions between Russian and foreign shareholders of TNK-BP, the largest foreign oil producer in Russia, boiled over this week after the billionaires' consortium sought the resignation of the TNK-BP chief executive, Robert Dudley.

The investors — Mikhail Fridman, Viktor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik, a Russian-born American citizen — cited disagreements over investments and asset sales, and expressed concern that Dudley was managing the venture solely in BP's interests.

On Friday, BP said Dudley was not stepping down.

This week, Dudley, who has led the joint venture since its formation in 2003, lashed out at the Russian shareholders, telling a Russian newspaper that the company was suffering from a "breakdown" in management.

The billionaires refused to attend a meeting Thursday of the company's board in Cyprus because Dudley had not been removed. Vladimir Buyanov, BP's spokesman in Moscow, said that the three instead met in Cyprus with the chairman of BP, Tony Hayward.

Since Vladimir Putin, then president of Russia and now the prime minister, and Tony Blair, then the British prime minister, created TNK-BP with an $8 billion investment, several major oil companies operating in Russia have fallen into difficulty.

Source: The New York Times |By SOPHIA KISHKOVSKY

No comments: