OAO Rosneft asked a Siberian court to wait before dropping a 100 billion-ruble ($3 billion) lawsuit brought against BP Plc by a minority shareholder in OAO TNK-BP Holding, a unit of the Russian oil venture it’s acquiring.
Rosneft sought a two-month delay on a decision on minority shareholder Andrey Prokhorov’s request to drop his case until TNK-BP Holding forms its position on the withdrawal of the case, according to a petition seen by Bloomberg News.
The next hearing was set for Jan. 24 following Rosneft’s petition, Konstantin Lukoyanov, a lawyer representing BP, said by phone yesterday. “BP isn’t against the delay,” he said. “It’s not a concern.”
Prokhorov’s damages claim, filed in favor of TNK-BP Holding, centers on an Arctic exploration alliance last year between BP and Rosneft that failed under a challenge from AAR, which represents the U.K. explorer’s billionaire partners in the TNK-BP venture. This year, BP and AAR agreed to sell their halves of the venture to state-controlled Rosneft for a combined $55 billion, ending a fractious, almost 10-year partnership.
If Prokhorov’s case stands, TNK-BP Holding, or TBH, is set to receive the 100 billion rubles awarded in July, less than the 409 billion rubles the minority shareholder had sought. “The court is obliged to ascertain TBH’s opinion on whether its rights will be violated if the court accepts Prokhorov’s withdrawal of his suit,” according to Rosneft’s letter.
Prokhorov’s side confirmed the request to drop the claims, and the next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 24, Lukoyanov said. Dmitry Chepurenko, a partner at the Liniya Prava law firm representing Prokhorov, the holder of about 0.00001 percent of TBH, declined to comment on the hearing. TNK-BP’s press service declined to comment. Rosneft’s press service declined to comment immediately.
Rosneft, which signed binding agreements in the past four weeks to buy out BP and AAR, has said TNK-BP wasn’t a potential partner for its Arctic exploration project. AAR last year blocked the alliance, saying their shareholder agreement gave TNK-BP the right to pursue new opportunities in Russia for BP.
BP and AAR agreed last month to drop all claims against each other. AAR has said it’s not involved in Prokhorov’s case.
BP is selling its half of TNK-BP for $17 billion and 12.8 percent of Rosneft, while AAR agreed to sell its stake for $28 billion in cash. TBH is the venture’s traded unit and holds most of its Russian assets.