TNK-BP Squabble Hits Boards

BP's billionaire partners said the company was planning to fire Russian executives at TNK-BP as a battle for control of the 50-50 oil venture escalates.

"We have received very strong signals that BP and [TNK-BP CEO] Bob Dudley may take the unilateral action to terminate at least several members of senior management that were appointed by AAR," said Stan Polovets, CEO of AAR, a consortium of three companies controlled by Mikhail Fridman, TNK-BP executive director German Khan, Viktor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik.

Polovets said he believed that Khan's position and possibly Vekselberg's were under threat. AAR would consider legal action to maintain its interests, he said.

Dudley is legally allowed to terminate the employees.

A source close to TNK-BP confirmed that BP had requested that some AAR-backed nominees be excluded from the management board in April, yet added that their removal from the firm was never broached. Spokespeople for TNK-BP and BP declined comment.

Polovets also said an AAR-backed TNK-BP board member had filed suit in Tyumen to challenge a list of nominations to TNK-BP Holding. A hearing into another lawsuit filed by minority shareholder Tetlis last month in the Siberian city was postponed until July 3.

n The state environmental watchdog said Wednesday that it found licensing violations at the main oil production unit of Slavneft, owned 50-50 by TNK-BP and Gazprom Neft.