Tycoon Vekselberg may be interim TNK-BP CEO -paper

MOSCOW, May 25 (Reuters) - Russian tycoon Viktor Vekselberg could next month become interim chief executive officer of the country's third-largest oil firm, TNK-BP TNBPI.RTS, in which he holds 12.5 percent, the Vedomosti daily reported on Monday.

TNK-BP became a battleground for internal wrangling between British oil major BP BP.L, which controls half of the firm, and its Russian shareholders, including Vekselberg.

A truce was called last year with the election of a new board, but half a year later a new CEO has yet to be appointed. [ID:nLM111522]

Denis Morozov, the former head of Russian miner Norilsk Nickel, had been seen as a likely candidate for the post but talks with him ground to a halt earlier this year.

Now shareholders have reached a preliminary agreement that Vekselberg will take charge, Vedomosti reported, citing an unnamed businessman familiar with BP’s management.

The appointment could be approved by the board of directors as soon as next month, a source close to the shareholders told the business daily.

Representatives of TNK-BP shareholders and of Vekselberg declined to comment when contacted by Vedomosti.

One of the conditions in the truce between the Russian and the British shareholders had been that the new chief would be independent of either side.

As such, Vekselberg’s appointment would be only temporary until a new candidate was found to lead the company on a permanent basis, the sources told Vedomosti.

Writing by Toni Vorobyova; editing by John Stonestreet