Russian co-owners vote against TNK-BP $1 billion payout

MOSCOW Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:05am EDT

A passer-by walks past the main office of TNK-BP in Moscow February 9, 2011. REUTERS/Nikolay Korchekov

A passer-by walks past the main office of TNK-BP in Moscow February 9, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Nikolay Korchekov

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - The directors of a consortium of billionaires who co-own TNK-BP TNBP.MM have voted against a proposal for the company to pay $1 billion in 2012 dividends, putting pressure on BP to resolve conflict and ownership issues at the Anglo-Russian oil venture.

British oil major BP (BP.L) and its oligarch partners jointly own the TNK-BP venture but are heading for divorce after BP put its 50 percent stake in TNK-BP up for sale last month.

"At a time of continuing market uncertainty and while corporate governance at TNK-BP remains strained, we believe that a cautious stance by shareholders is called for," Stan Polovets, the chief executive officer of the AAR consortium which groups the billionaire co-owners, said in a statement on Monday.

"A payment now of an additional dividend is not prudent," he added.

Chris Weafer, chief strategist at Troika Dialog investment bank, said the dividend decision "is just keeping pressure on the (ownership) situation ... so that everyone stays focused on getting a resolution as quickly as possible."

Weaver said AAR's decision put pressure in particular on BP, which will need to explain the situation to investors when reporting its second-quarter results on Tuesday.

TNK-BP International said last week its second-quarter net profit slumped to $808 million from $2.2 billion a year ago on the back of lower crude prices and higher taxes. Market insiders have also named the corporate spat as another downward factor for the company's operations[ID:nL6E8IRB0H]

BP formed the 50:50 joint venture with AAR - a consortium representing tycoons Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, Viktor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik - nearly a decade ago to tap into Russia's vast energy reserves. The group is estimated to be worth as much as $60 billion.

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh, Alexei Anishchuk and Megan Davies; Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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