TNK-BP Minority Investors Sue BP in $3 Billion Loss Claim

A group of minority shareholders in BP Plc’s Russian venture said they are suing the U.K. company for 87 billion rubles ($3 billion) for damages they allege resulted from the collapse of its alliance with OAO Rosneft.

OAO TNK-BP Holding, the traded unit of the venture, could have gained profits of that magnitude from the growth in Rosneft’s share value if the company had been allowed to replace BP in a deal to swap shares and explore the Arctic with Rosneft, the group led by Andrei Prokhorov said today in an e-mailed statement.

BP’s plan for a $7.8 billion share swap and exploration alliance with Russia’s biggest oil explorer collapsed after its billionaire partners in TNK-BP blocked the deal in a Stockholm tribunal, claiming it violated a shareholders’ agreement. BP’s directors on the TNK-BP board voted down a proposal to allow the U.K. company to be replaced, TNK-BP said March 12.

The shareholders’ claim has been filed to Tyumen arbitration court in Siberia and hearings will take place Sept. 21 and Oct. 12, court filings show. TNK-BP spokesman Dmitry Sergeev declined to comment on the suit when reached by phone.

“We do not believe there is any legitimate basis whatsoever for such a claim,” BP spokesman Toby Odone said in an e-mail. “If any such claim is advanced against BP or the directors of TNK-BP Holding, these will be vigorously defended.”

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