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29 Jul, 2010 13:58

AAR welcomes Dudley’s rise to BP top

The AAR consortium which engaged in a long running shareholder dispute with Robert Dudley when he was head of TNK-BP, has welcomed his rise to the CEO position of BP global and says it is interested in buying BP assets.

Stan Polovets, CEO of the AAR consortium which represents the Russian shareholders of TNK-BP, speaking with RT Business, said that despite past issues which had seen them disagree with Dudley, they were enthusiastic about his accession to the top of BP, and applauded his tremendous contribution to the Anglo Russian joint venture.

“We very much welcome the appointment of Bob Dudley as the CEO of BP. Yes, we have had some difficulties when he was the CEO of TNK-BP. Those difficulties related primarily to a governance disagreement between AAR and BP. AAR wanted to have an independent CEO, not somebody appointed by BP who’s very closely affiliated with BP. We worked extremely well together with Bob, he has made a tremendous contribution to TNK-BP in the early years of the joint venture. After about 4 years our strategies began to diverge and, at that point, AAR felt it was important for the good of the company to have an independent CEO. Bob, unfortunately, was caught in the middle, but we have an excellent relationship with him, he has done a lot of great things for TNK-BP, and we look forward to working with him in his new capacity.”

Polovets also noted that reports in the media suggesting that Dudley’s predecessor as BP CEO, Tony Hayward, would be primarily focused on selling BP assets to TNK-BP were incorrect. Polovets noted that as a non executive director, Hayward would recuse himself from any deliberation which could lead to a conflict of interest, and that a potential sale of assets from BP to TNK-BP would be one such instance.

“That is totally incorrect and unsubstantiated. In fact, as TNK-BP looks to acquire assets from BP, the directors from BP have to recuse themselves from any deliberation or discussion of that transaction, because they are conflicted and would not be entitled to a vote as the Board contemplates recommendations that we may or may not get from TNK-BP management to acquire assets. So that’s totally incorrect, but I think he could be very helpful in thinking about assets that TNK-BP could acquire from other companies.”

Polovets did, however, add that TNK-BP was interested in purchasing BP assets, including global assets outside Russia, but would only be looking to do so where there was a strategic fit for TNK-BP.

“Most likely assets will be in countries where TNK-BP by virtue of being a Russian company, has a certain political advantage, where the Russian government can help it enter a country and negotiate the transaction. Secondly, assets will be in countries which are operationally linked to our current production, so it could be downstream assets somewhere in Central and Eastern Europe, it could be upstream assets in the Central Asian and Caspian states and, I think, thirdly it would be assets where TNK-BP can learn from operating. They could be small assets, but TNK-BP wants to expand internationally, and doesn’t, at this point, have a lot of experience operating globally, so we could gain that experience by working together with BP on a small project somewhere in a third country, gain experience in a new region, or new sector, and use it as a platform for further expansion.”