Bloomberg News

BP Says TNK-BP Minority Investor May Lose Case Against Directors

October 12, 2011

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc said a Siberian court will probably throw out an 87 billion-ruble ($2.8 billion) claim brought by a shareholder in OAO TNK-BP Holding, part of its Russian oil venture, after he failed to garner investor support.

A Tyumen court today rejected minority shareholder Andrey Prokhorov’s request to extend a deadline for shareholders in the TNK-BP traded unit to join his claims, the U.K. explorer and lawyers for the minority shareholder said in separate e-mailed statements.

The investor has claimed in two suits that the collapse of BP’s alliance with state-run OAO Rosneft deprived TNK-BP of potential profit. Prokhorov last month called for investors to join a class action suit against two BP directors on the TNK-BP Holding board.

No other shareholders joined the initial claim, BP said. Prokhorov, who owns 0.0000106 percent of TNK-BP Holding, failed to clear a 1 percent ownership threshold needed to sue board directors, according to the U.K. explorer. Dmitry Chepurenko, Prokhorov’s lawyer, said the percentage of those willing to join can’t be determined at the moment.

BP won an appeal on Oct. 10 against an earlier decision by the Tyumen court that had allowed a two-day document search at its Moscow offices, which disrupted normal operations.

‘Legally Absurd’

BP, which owns the TNK-BP venture equally with a group of Russian billionaires, has called the claims “legally absurd.” BP’s directors on TNK-BP’s board voted down a proposal to have the third-biggest Russian oil producer replace BP in a planned share swap and Arctic exploration alliance with Rosneft, the venture said March 12. Rosneft had said it didn’t want TNK-BP as a partner.

The court today also rejected Prokhorov’s application to conduct hearings behind closed doors, BP said. The case is scheduled for Nov. 10, both parties said.

The court will hear Prokhorov’s other suit for 154 billion rubles against BP and BP Russian Investments Ltd. tomorrow.

Prokhorov’s lawyers have said the damages represent the increase in the price of the Rosneft stake that BP had planned to acquire in a share swap and the estimated lost profit from potential projects.

BP and Rosneft’s planned alliance collapsed after a challenge from the U.K. producer’s billionaire partners in TNK- BP, who said the venture had the right of first refusal to pursue the deal.

--Editors: Torrey Clark, Amanda Jordan

To contact the reporter on this story: Anna Shiryaevskaya in Moscow at ashiryaevska@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net


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