BP fight over divi cut
British oil giant BP has blocked a $1.8bn (£900m) dividend payment due to four Russian billionaire shareholders of its strife-torn joint venture TNK-BP.
But while the move was seen in London yesterday as proof that the UK giant was fighting back, the oligarchs claimed that there was no disagreement. They too had voted not to pay themselves a dividend and invest the cash in the business instead, they claimed yesterday.
A spokesman for Alfa-Access-Renova (AAR) – the holding company for the billionaires’ oil investment – said: “The move to invest this money in the business in light of the credit crunch was proposed by BP, and was backed by AAR.” The move came at a board meeting of TNK-BP held in Cyprus 10 days ago.
Britain’s BP and AAR are waging a bitter battle for control of the Russian oil business with produces 1.8m barrels of oil a day, equivalent to a quarter of the oil giant’s annual production. AAR wants to remove TNK-BP chief executive Robert Dudley from the firm, because they say the BP appointee is acting on behalf of the oil giant, not the shareholders as a whole. BP denies this.
Dudley’s contract of employment expired last December and his visa is due to run out at the end of the month. An AAP spokesman added: “Dudley no longer has a valid contract of employment with TNK-BP.”