TNK-BP shareholder sues BP for $5-10 bn

12th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

A shareholder of BP's Russian joint venture has filed a lawsuit seeking up to $10 billion in damages from the British giant over its proposed tie-up with Rosneft, news reports said Thursday.

Russia's Supreme Arbitration Court website said the suit was filed by the TNK-BP joint venture shareholder Andrei Prokhorov.

A court official told Interfax that Prokhorov was seeking $5-10 billion in damages from two divisions of BP but that his initial request to get access to the company's computer data had been denied.

Court records showed that a separate suit was also filed by Prokhorov and others against Peter Charow and Richard Scott Sloan -- BP's regional director for Russia and TNK-BP chairman of the board.

BP has until Monday to complete a $16 billion share-swap agreement with Rosneft that had initially also been due to include a deal to jointly develop Arctic oil reserves controlled by the Russian firm.

The Russian partners in TNK-BP joint venture managed to block the Arctic portion of the agreement in court, after arguing that it broke their shareholder agreement.

They also threatened to sue BP for damages after an arbitration panel ruled that TNK-BP had the right of first refusal on all of the BP's Russian projects.

BP had been planning to use TNK-BP dividend payments to finance the Arctic exploration work.

A revised deal proposal announced last week by BP, following arbitration, will potentially allow TNK-BP to take its parent company's place in the exploration project.

But Russia's state-controlled Rosneft has previously refused to work jointly with the local venture because of its relative inexperience and lack of access to international markets and deposits.

Rosneft has not commented on the terms of the revised deal.

© 2011 AFP

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