TNK-BP moves to block $1.8bn share payout

RUSSIAN shareholders in TNK-BP have called an extraordinary board meeting to discuss cancelling a $1.8bn (£1.1bn) dividend payment, half of which would have gone to British partner BP.

The latest twist in the feud between BP and the Russian shareholders in the joint venture comes after BP said it had offered its partners in TNK-BP an arbitration meeting, ahead of a court hearing that could overshadow its results tomorrow.

AAR, a Russian consortium that owns half of TNK-BP, will hear tomorrow whether the High Court has granted it an injunction blocking BP’s $16bn (£10bn) share swap and exploration deal with Russia’s state-owned oil group Rosneft.

AAR believes the agreement could breach TNK-BP’s right to first refusal on BP’s activities in Russia.

But BP has written to TNK-BP chief executive and AAR member Mikhail Fridman to request a “fast track” arbitration meeting in Sweden to try and smooth the path for its Rosneft deal.

“Under the shareholder agreements, the process for settling disputes if they can’t be settled within the shareholders is to go to independent arbitration in Sweden,” a BP spokesman said yesterday.