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18 Jul, 2008 09:48

High Noon for TNK-BP CEO extended until July 27

TNK-BP CEO Robert Dudley has told reporters his visa has been prolonged until the 27th of July. That gives the TNK-BP head more time to settle the dispute between the company's shareholders.

The balance of power in a struggle over control of TNK-BP has shifted again. Dudley's visa was scheduled to expire on July 19. At the last minute the TNK-BP CEO received ten extra days, which he'll use to try to keep his job. After being granted the visa extension Dudley said,

I received a visa that allows me to continue working for ten more days until the 27th of July, until we can be clear and sort out the validity of my employment contract, which I believe is indefinite. But theres a number of questions and this gives me time to work, as well as answer some of the additional questions of the authorities. I Thought that was very cooperative.

Dudley's contract ran until the end of last year but it was never formally terminated. Evgeny Reyzman, Partner and Head of Employment and Migration Law Practice at Baker and McKenzie commented that,

In order to renew the contract we need a special decision of the board, but if the previous decision was not limited or the term is still valid then Mr Dudley is still an employee, but without a contract. But this is a technical infringement of Russian labor law.

AAR Group – the Russian shareholders with a 50% stake in TNK-BP – say a new one-year contract has not been signed because the business is under performing. Dudley is also  accused of discriminating against Russian employees and  managing the company as a BP subsidiary. AAR Group has released a statement saying,

We can not understand how, in light of the public demands by the chairman of the board and 50 per cent of the board members for the CEO to step down, Mr Dudley continues to insist that his contract has been extended.

Robert Dudley however does not intend to give in to Russian shareholders demands that he resigns until the conflict is resolved.