Russian Shareholders Skip TNK-BP Board Meeting

Russian shareholders in BP's oil venture TNK-BP failed to show up for a board meeting in Cyprus on Thursday, two days after they and their British counterparts publicly confirmed that they had disagreements.

"The meeting did not take place due to an absence of quorum. Russian shareholders chose not to attend the meeting," said Vladimir Buyanov, a spokesman for BP in Moscow.

Russian shareholders did, however, meet with BP CEO Tony Hayward in Cyprus, BP said, to discuss differences both sides aired over strategy at TNK-BP, which analysts expect will be pushed into a takeover by a Russian state firm.

"They discussed the future strategic direction of the company. The discussions will be continued in the future," Buyanov said, adding that it was not immediately clear when the board meeting would take place.

Russia's No. 3 oil firm, half-owned by BP and a group of Russian billionaires, has fallen prey to long-running suspicions that the Kremlin wants it to sell out to a state-controlled firm, such as Gazprom.

Earlier this week, the Russian shareholders said in a joint statement that they wanted to expand abroad even if foreign acquisitions competed with existing BP businesses, and that they wanted a better balance between Russian and foreign staff at TNK-BP.

The statement echoed comments by TNK-BP chief executive Robert Dudley, saying there were disagreements between the British shareholders and Russian shareholders, which include Viktor Vekselberg, Mikhail Fridman and Len Blavatnik.

Media reports followed saying Dudley would resign.

The canceled board meeting comes on top of other major problems at TNK-BP, which last year was forced to cede control of a major Siberian gas project to Gazprom.