MOSCOW, December 14 - RAPSI, Sergei Feklyunin. The Eight Commercial Court of Appeals has postponed until January 24 the hearing over the lawsuit filed by TNK-BP Holding minority shareholder Andrei Prokhorov to recover 288 billion rubles ($9.4 billion) from BP Russian Investment Limited (BPRI) and BP p.l.c., the court told the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/rapsinews.com).
Dmitry Chepurenko, the plaintiff's attorney, told the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/rapsinews.com) that the hearing was postponed due to a motion filed by Rosneft, a third party in the case. On December 3, Prokhorov filed an application to withdraw his lawsuit, but Chepurenko was unable to state the reasons behind this.
Konstantin Lukoyanov, the defendants' representatives, said that the lawsuit had been submitted as part of a dispute between the main shareholders, but since the latter had been resolved, there was no reason to continue proceedings in this case.
Prokhorov claimed that the amount sought in the lawsuit was equal to the losses TNK-BP Holding incurred from the transaction between BP and Rosneft which never took place. BPRI, Rosneft and TNK-BP Limited directors David Keith Peattie, Brian Gilvary and Lord George Robertson are appealing the ruling.
The legal action stems from allegations that BP PLC and its subsidiary BP Russian Investments Limited, acting as TNK-BP Limited shareholders, forced their boards to turn down a proposal by TNK-BP Holding to form a strategic partnership with Rosneft and purchase its shares. This lost opportunity allegedly inflicted losses on the TNK-BP Holding.
In January 2011, Rosneft and BP agreed on the equity swap, in which the Russian company would get 5% of BP's ordinary shares in exchange for 9.5% of Rosneft shares; the companies also agreed to develop the Arctic's Russian shelf in partnership. But according to the lawsuit by AAR Consortium, which represents the interests of TNK-BPs Russian shareholders, the transaction was blocked. In June 2011, the negotiations on the transaction ceased.
Prokhorov believed that if TNK-BP had become a member of the strategic partnership between the two companies, then under a swap agreement it would have purchased 1.01 billion common shares in Rosneft, which in turn would have increased in value and brought higher profits to TNK-BP. Therefore, he maintained that the difference between the current fair price of the shares and the price at which TNK-BP would have acquired the stake in the swap was lost profit.