The controversial Ukrainian and Russian billionaires attempting to oust the boss of JKX Oil and Gas were crushingly defeated by an army of small shareholders last night after a meeting in which one demanded they "get their tanks off our lawn".
Between them, the oligarchs held nearly 40 per cent of the shares. But nearly every other shareholder voted to back chief executive Paul Davies.
The result is particularly damaging for the reputations of Ukrainian duo Gennadiy Bogolyubov and Igor Kolomoisky, who also face claims pending in the High Court that they swindled another Ukrainian businessman, Victor Pinchuk, out of $2bn (£1.3bn) – which they deny. They already have a grip on the Ukrainian energy industry through their Privat bank which reportedly owns 42 per cent of the country's biggest player, Ukrnafta.
JKX's board claimed that they, and Alexander Zhukov, the father of Roman Abramovich's girlfriend Dasha Zhukova, were acting together in a backdoor grab for control of the business. They denied this, despite initially demanding to oust two directors and install three of their own placemen. They staged a failed assault at another London stock market company, Ferrexpo, in 2009. Francis Moll, a shareholder, told the packed AGM: "They tried similar tactics with Ferrexpo and eventually took their tanks off their lawn. I hope that is what they do here."