Ghost of BP Rosneft may come back for TNK-BP

Amidst reports that TNK – BP shareholders are looking to pursue legal action over BP’s failed bid to partner Rosneft in a share swap and Arctic exploration Business RT spoke with Ian Ivory from Goltsblat BLP.

RT: Does this ruling make way for a big lawsuit to claim the damages?

II: “I would hope not. This is a nightmare for TNK – BP – they’ve just pulled out of the deal with Rosneft, they think their troubles are over in Russia and now this pops out. So, we have to see. I mean you would hope it just all speculative, you would hope there’s nothing in it.”

RT: Do they have grounds to claim damages?

II: “It’s not clear. At this stage, all the court in Siberia said was that they have the right to make further effort to see what actually happened. So, at this stage it’s just checking and verifying. And they haven’t actually claimed the damages yet, as we understand.”

RT: What can they find in that document that they’re demanding to be revealed?

II: “What they are saying essentially is that BP has ruined value for them that the deal should have been done through a TNK – BP vehicle. And if it hadn’t been done, then their holding in that vehicle would have been great enhanced that would make a lot of money. So, basically what they are claiming is financial compensation.”

RT: What about the fact that BP potentially knew that there was that shareholder agreement that stipulates that they had to go through TNK – BP with all of its exploration processes?

II: “Clearly, this dispute is a bigger issue. I mean, BP will say – yes, we knew about it, that’s what will make the deal conditional, we tried to asses our condition, we were unable to, therefore the deal fell away. I think, the claim is suggesting that something there was wrong, and that’s all we have to say.”

RT: The lawyers representing the minority shareholders say damages could be 5 to 10 Billion dollars. What can you say about that?

II: “Sounds a bit steep from where I’m sitting. I mean we have to see, to wait when the evidence comes out. But, to my mind, it’s going to be really hard to establish that something was wrong and that’s led to that sort of financial loss. So, my suspicion is that this all is a part of a commercial negotiation trying to get something. But who knows? We’ll see.”

RT: What kind of resolution do you expect to see? I mean that we’ve heard that BP was trying to buy out the Russian shareholdersof TNK – BP, but that apparently failed. What’s going to happen?                                                                                                

II: “That’s a nightmare for TNK. They think, they’ve settled their problems in Russia and this pops up. They will have a dual strategy, they will have sat down with their lawyers and said Publically we will attack this, we will defend this, we will refuse. Privately, maybe a settlement could be done. That’s what they’ll be looking to do – just to get rid of this if they can at a reasonable price.”

RT: The minority shareholders claim BP representatives Anthony Charrow and Richard Scott-Sloan made it impossible for TNK-BP to participate in the Arctic deal – how?

II: “It’s all really strange. We don’t really know and, I think, that’s the purpose of the decision of the Siberian court is that now they have a permission to make further effort. So, we need to see – it doesn’t end up from I’m sitting, who knows?”

RT: Why these two people?

II: “They were saying they were the key offices at that time who were responsible for the actions and the decisions. I think, that’s the reason they’ve been listed. But who knows? We’ll see. To my mind, it seems to be overstated.”