Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mr. Five Percent

Under the agreement, the Anglo-Persian Group and Shell each gave up the "beneficiary interest" of 2.5 percent of the total shares to the Armenian. That meant that he could not vote shares, but would enjoy all the financial benefits of such a shareholding. And so Mr. Five Percent was born, and that is how he was known ever after.

Everything seemed settled at last, even the boundary with Turkey, except for one stumbling block -- Calouste Gulbenkian and his 5 percent. Throughout the negotiations, Gulbenkian had remained a strange and solitary figure. He went to great lengths to avoid meetings, but scrutinized every word of memoranda, and replied with a torrent of telegrams. Isolation also marked his personal connections. "Oil friendships are very slippery," he once said.

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