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TNK-BP tie-up faces ‘meltdown’, says chief

telegraph.co.uk

TNK-BP tie-up faces ‘meltdown’, says chief 

By Russell Hotten

Last Updated: 1:10am BST 18/07/2008

 

 

Relations between the British and Russian shareholders in TNK-BP appeared in meltdown last night as its chief executive spoke of the feuding, claiming it will tear the company apart. 

Robert Dudley said that a power struggle at TNK-BP was entering a “new phase” following a lawsuit issued yesterday accusing him of discrimination against Russian employees. “We have reached a new low in the tactics being used,” Mr Dudley said. “These claims will tear the company apart.” 

TNK-BP, jointly owned by Britain’s BP and a group of Russian billionaires, has been in the grip of a dispute over its future for months. 

Last week the Russians, operating under a consortium called Alfa-Access-Renova, failed to have Mr Dudley sacked, but he still faces expulsion from the country due to problems renewing his visa.

Yesterday, 16 TNK-BP managers filed a lawsuit accusing Mr Dudley of discriminating against Russian employees by paying higher salaries to foreigners. Elvardi Stafilov, TNK-BP’s vice president of legal issues and one of the 16 employees suing, said that their case had “no relation to the conflict” between the shareholders. Mr Dudley, however, said that he believes AAR, or factions within it, are behind the lawsuit.

Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, Mr Dudley said: “We have entered a new phase in the shareholder dispute, when people in the company are poles apart. He described claims of discrimination by him “a cynical step, nothing more than PR aimed at destroying the company.”

Mr Dudley, an American who formerly worked for BP, is accused by the Russians – Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, Viktor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik – of running the country’s third largest oil company for the benefit of BP and not all the shareholders. AAR says TNK-BP has performed poorly, and accuse BP of stifling the company’s expansion overseas, claims that the UK company vigorously reject.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2008/07/18/cnbp118.xml

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