TNK-BP’s future on the line as shareholders vote for new board

The annual general meeting of TNK-BP shareholders has taken place on Thursday in Moscow’s President Hotel. A new board of directors has been elected while three Russian members of the company had earlier asked CEO Robert Dudley to remove them from the lis

Roman Bezrukov, Alexander Gorshkov and Boris Kondrashov had indicated they no longer wish to be on the board.

The RIA Novosti news agency quotes a minority shareholder of the venture as saying their case will be taken up later at an extraordinary meeting. The date for this meeting is not yet set.

All nine members of the board of directors have been elected. The TNK-BP’s CEO Robert Dudley had a proxy of 95% of shares on this meeting.

The Russian shareholders have demanded that Robert Dudley steps down, accusing him of putting the interests of BP first.

The list of candidates to the new board of director was approved at an earlier meeting by TNK-BP’s current board. However, only its British members were present at that meeting. Russian shareholders have challenged that decision in court but as yet there has been no resolution.

The Russian part of the venture was totally dissatisfied with the list of candidates, which appears to be a copy of the previos board list, in which five members out of nine are British.

Dividends were also discussed at Thursday’s meeting. The cumulative payout for 2007 will make up 100% of the net profit of $US 2.11 billion according to the Russian accounting standards. The shareholders will receive 7 cents per share.

There are widespread rumours that Russia’s energy mogul Gazprom might somehow be involved in the ongoing dispute.

However, earlier this week Russia’s President, Dmitry Medvedev, a former head of Gazprom said none of Russia’s state energy giants is interested in buying into TNK-BP. He added that the joint venture is a private company and its internal conflicts are of no interest to the state.

Set up in 2003, TNK-BP is Russia's third largest oil producer. It accounts for a quarter of BP's overall output.

The company is jointly owned by BP and Russian consortium AAR, whose members are Alfa Group, Renova and Access Industries.