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Mikhail Fridman resigns from the post of the TNK-BP board chairman

May 29, 2012, 13:52 UTC+3

The shareholders differed in their views on the TNK-BP management

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MOSCOW, May 29 (Itar-Tass World Service)

Chairman of the TNK-BP board and the co-owner of the company, Mikhail Fridman, resigns from the post of the TNK-BP board chairman, at which he was to work until the end of 2013. He notified in the written form the TNK-BP board of directors about his decision. The shareholders differed in their views on the TNK-BP management. Over the lack of quorum in the board of directors the TNK-BP top management had taken the main decisions that did not suit BP. Fridman’s resignation will give a free hand to the AAR Consortium in another round of rivalry with BP, the experts believe.

The decision about Fridman’s resignation will take effect in 30 days, the Kommersant daily noted. AAR did not comment on the situation. BP told the newspaper that the current situation will not affect the TNK-BP operation, because Mikhail Fridman did not deal with the daily management of the company.

Mikhail Fridman was to manage TNK-BP until the end of 2013, the newspaper noted. The stockholders of the company came to this agreement back in February. Then they approved a new scheme of the TNK-BP management that was needed later after the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder and the former Rio Tinto top manager Jim Leng quitted the TNK-BP management. They did not want to take a decision over the TNK-BP lawsuit to the High Court of London against the TNK-BP co-owners.

AAR accuses BP of breaching the shareholders’ agreement in an attempt taken in the previous year to establish a strategic alliance with Rosneft through a swap of shares and the joint offshore development. Meanwhile BP accused Viktor Vekselberg’s Renova of violating the document that did not propose its oil and gas assets to TNK-BP. The court deliberations on both lawsuits continue in the International Arbitration Court in Stockholm, and the London High Court was to rule on a compensation to TNK-BP.

The reason for Fridman’s resignation sounds strange, the RBC daily cited an analyst of the Kapital publishing house Vitaly Kryukov as saying. “Fridman is not a person, who will give up fighting and will quit the business, because he cannot agree with BP, though it should be noted that the position of the chief managing director was mostly nominal recently and he was restricted to take vital decisions,” he said. The expert noted that Mikhail Fridman could have some projects outside TNK-BP and he decided to resign from the post of the TNK-BP board chairman in order to avoid the conflict of interests.

This came absolutely unexpected, the notification was sent simultaneously with an official statement of the company, a source close to BP told the Vedomosti daily. No one warned the British shareholder in advance about Fridman’s decision to quit the post of the TNK-BP CEO, he said.

In his application Fridman did not disclose the reasons for his resignation, TNK-BP said in its statement. Vedomosti sources close to both stockholders of the oil company have put forward several versions. Four of them stated about unsettled contradictions between Russian and British stockholders. The company has a full collapse of the corporative management system, the board of directors did not hold a meeting already for six months and will most likely not meet for another six months, a Vedomosti source said. The partners complain to each other and accuse each other of sabotage. BP allegedly blocks the deals, which are not negotiated properly with it, and AAR deteriorates the chaos in corporative management, not making it possible to restore the normal operation of the company. The Vedomosti sources from conflicting parties share the opinion that the current situation looks like a conflict in the company in 2008. One of the results of this conflict became Fridman’s coming on the post of the TNK board chairman.

The conflict has aggravated, but the reason for Fridman’s resignation is not in this issue, a source close to the Russian shareholder said. The resignation was needed for some scheme over Rosneft’s upcoming enlargement. The state-run oil holding can acquire some part of Russia’s stock in TNK-BP. Should Fridman stay at the helm of the company this fact could have affected him negatively, the Vedomosti source underlined.

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