RUSSIA, July 8 – Russian shareholders in Anglo-Russian oil firm TNK-BP lost their bid to oust the firm\’s British chief executive Robert Dudley.
TNK-BP Management voted against the shareholders\’ demands to sack Dudley at an emergency meeting.
The shareholders and BP are locked in a battle for control of the oil company, which generates about a quarter of BP\’s oil production.
The Russian shareholders claim that Dudley shows favouritism to BP.
Observers had anticipated the outcome as three of the five TNK-BP Management board members were nominated by Dudley.
But despite him having survived the vote, more challenges to his position are expected during the week.
The group of Russian have been involved in a dispute with BP centring on strategy and management control since May.
BP and a consortium of various Russian-connected billionaires, AAR, each have a 50% stake in TNK-BP – but this equal split can only be seen on the board of TNK-BP International, to which TNK-BP management reports.
The Russian owners have accused Dudley of showing favouritism to BP and have blamed him for the joint venture\’s so-called poor performance.
TNK-BP International will hold a board meeting this Friday during which the Russian group is expected to re-table its demands for the chief executive\’s resignation.
Meanwhile, BP has complained about the treatment of its staff in Russia.
Authorities had turned down BP\’s requests for work permits for a number of its executives before reversing the decision last week.
The dispute has even seen intervention from Prime Minister Gordon Brown who discussed the issue during this first meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the G8 meeting of leading industrialised nations.
"I raised all the difficult issues that have caused difficult relations between our two countries," Mr Brown told reporters after the meeting.
Medvedev\’s spokesman said the TNK-BP dispute was a private matter between the firm\’s shareholders.
"President Medvedev said he does not intend to interfere in this. It is not a matter for the state," his spokesman Sergei Prikhodko said.