27 January 2012
Platts agency publishes Denis Arkhipov commentary on TNK-BP shareholders conflict

BP, former TNKBP director to file suits against TNKBP minority shareholder

Former BP-nominated director of Anglo-Russian TNK-BP Holdings, Richard Scott Sloan, and BP Exploration Operating Company (BP EOC) are going to seek a total of approximately $1 million in damages from a TNK-BP Holding minority shareholder, according to Denis Arkhipov, senior associate at the Russian legal firm that represents BP's interests in the case.

"The figure is very preliminary and subject to change as we have not collected paper evidence proving damages yet," Arkhipov, who represents the legal firm Egorov, Puginsky, Afanasiev and partners, said Friday.

Sloan plans to seek reimbursement of legal costs related to the lawsuit TNK-BP Holding minority shareholder Andrei Prokhorov filed against him, Arkhipov said.

BP EOC, BP's Moscow subsidiary, is to seek reimbursement for the damage the company suffered during a bailiff raid last August initiated on Prokhorov's request, Arkhipov said.

Sloan and BP EOC took the decision to file the lawsuits Thursday, after the Omsk court of appeal dismissed Prokhorov's lawsuits against BP EOC, Sloan and another BP-nominated director of TNK-BP Holding, Peter Anthony Charow, he said.

Charow is not going to file a reimbursement claim as he did not participate in the case through an attorney and had no legal expenses, Arkhipov said.

On Thursday, the Omsk appeal court upheld a November decision of Russia's Tyumen court, which dismissed claims of TNK-BP Holding minorities led by Prokhorov.

The minority shareholders claimed to have suffered Rb409.28 billion ($13.07 billion) worth of damage after BP, BP Russian Investments and the two board members allegedly prevented TNK-BP from replacing BP in a strategic deal with Russia's largest oil producer Rosneft.

In March 2011, Russian consortium Alfa-Access-Renova, BP's partner, blocked the planned mega-deal with Rosneft, which involved a multi-billion share swap and joint development of three blocks in the Russian Arctic.

AAR claimed that under a shareholding agreement, BP has to pursue investment opportunities in Russia only through TNK-BP. Rosneft, however, refused to enter into a strategic agreement with TNK-BP.

In May 2011, TNK-BP Holding's minority shareholders filed a suit against former board members representing BP and a separate case against BP and BP Russian Investments for allegedly preventing TNK-BP from replacing BP in the partnership with Rosneft.

In August 2011, representatives of Russia's Bailiff Service raided the BP EOC office in Moscow on the request of the minority shareholders. Documents found during the raid were to be used as evidence in the minorities' cases against BP and the board directors.

In September 2011, the Tyumen court canceled its ruling that authorized the raid.

AAR, jointly with BP, controls about 95% of TNK-BP Holding. The consortium and the British oil giant own TNK-BP on an equal basis.

TNK-BP Holding controls the bulk of TNK-BP's Russian assets.