MOSCOW, April 23 (RAPSI, Sergei Feklyunin) - The Federal Commercial Court of Appeals of the West Siberian District (Tyumen) has ruled in favor of Rosneft's appeal against the lower court's decision to dismiss a TNK-BP minority shareholder's suit against BP, the court told RAPSI.
Andrei Prokhorov sued BP Russian Investment Limited (BPRI) and BP p.l.c. for 288 billion rubles (over $9 billion) in damages, a sum equal to the losses which TNK-BP Holding allegedly incurred from a transaction which failed to take place between BP and Rosneft.
Russia's largest state oil company, Rosneft, appealed the January 28 ruling of the Eighth Commercial Court of Appeals in Omsk, which dismissed the case after Prokhorov filed a motion on December 3, 2012 to withdraw the lawsuit. Attorney Dmitry Chepurenko declined to give the reasons for his client's decision.
Konstantin Lukoyanov, the defendant's representative, told RAPSI that "BP has always believed that Prokhorov's lawsuit has no legal grounds." In his opinion, "the only possible outcome under any scenario is the dismissal of this absurd lawsuit."
Commenting on the court of appeal's decision on Tuesday, Lukoyanov told RAPSI that "ВР has always acted in the interests of ТНК-ВР when it was its shareholder."
"Now that the plaintiff has realized the hopelessness and absurdity of his case, we hope that the court of appeals will confirm the inconsistency of the lawsuit after a substantive hearing of the case," Lukoyanov said.
Prokhorov filed the lawsuit because BP p.l.c. as the parent company of BPRI and BPRI as a shareholder of TNK-BP Limited forced the TNK-BP Limited board of directors to reject a proposal by TNK-BP Holding to form a strategic partnership with Rosneft and to purchase its shares. The plaintiff claims that TNK-BP Holding incurred substantial losses as a result of that decision.
On August 6, 2012, the Tyumen Region Commercial Court of Appeals granted part of Prokhorov's claim by ordering the defendants to pay ТНК-BP Holding 100.4 billion rubles ($3.2 billion). Prokhorov was originally seeking 288 billion rubles.
In January 2011, Rosneft and BP agreed on a share swap to allow them to explore in the Russian Arctic, in which the Russian company was to get 5% of BP's ordinary shares in exchange for 9.5% of Rosneft shares. But the transaction was blocked by the lawsuit initiated by AAR Consortium, which represents the interests of TNK-BP's Russian shareholders. In June 2011, negotiations on the transaction ceased.
Rosneft bought TNK-BP last year, paying $27.73 billion to AAR for its half of Russia's third-largest crude producer. BP received $12.48 billion in cash, including a $700 million dividend paid out in December after the deal was struck, plus an 18.5% Rosneft stake which lifts its holding in the state crude producer to 19.75%.