Thursday, 28 May 2009

Decision on TNK-BP head deferred until end of year

The guessing game over the new chief executive of TNK-BP, the troubled Anglo-Russian oil company, was turned into a corporate beauty contest yesterday.
After days of speculation over an appointment, BP and Alfa-Access-Renova (AAR), the consortium representing four Russian billionaire shareholders, announced that they would defer a final decision until the end of the year. Until then Mikhail Fridman, one of the Russians, was named interim chief executive and the company appointed two contenders for the post to senior positions. Pavel Skitovich and Maxim Barsky will join TNK-BP, Russia’s third-largest oil producer, setting up a contest for promotion to the top job. “Each has the credentials to become the new CEO,” a company statement said.
BP and AAR, which own 50 per cent of TNK-BP each, were locked in a bitter battle for much of last year over control of the company. AAR represents Mr Fridman, Viktor Vekselberg, German Khan and Len Blavatnik.
BP nominated Mr Skitovich formally to lead the company on Monday, declaring that “as far as we are concerned, the search for a new CEO is over”. Almost immediately, anonymous briefings in Russian newspapers made clear that AAR took a different view.
Mr Barsky was named as the consortium’s choice to lead the company, suggesting that BP and AAR had failed to overcome their differences. Reports also suggested Mr Vekselberg would become interim chief executive.
TNK-BP said that the board had unanimously backed the appointment of both Mr Skitovich and Mr Barsky. It said that BP had asked Mr Fridman to become temporary chief executive “as part of a succession plan to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year”.
Mr Fridman, the chairman of Alfa Group, was estimated by Forbes to be Russia’s fourth-richest man, worth more than $6 billion (£3.7 billion). However, his fortune is said to have shrunk from more than $20 billion before the global economic crisis.
Mr Skitovich, 43, was Soviet vice-consul in Uganda for six years. He was a senior manager at the Interros group owned by Vladimir Potanin, an oligarch close to the Kremlin, and was chief executive of Polyus, Russia’s largest gold producer, for five months in 2007.
Mr Barsky, 35, is a director of West Siberian Resources, a Russian oil producer. He previously worked at a subsidiary of the state-run Gazprom and as a vice-president of Troika Dialog, Russia’s largest private investment bank.
Mr Fridman said: “Both Mr Skitovich and Mr Barsky bring valuable experience to our company, and AAR believes that they are both excellent candidates for the CEO position.”
Tim Summers, who had been acting chief executive since December, returns to his position as chief operating officer.
Source: The Times

No comments: