* Suit targets Russian, Ukrainian partners
* Satellite launch service filed for bankruptcy in 2009
By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK, Feb 4 Boeing Co has sued its
Russian and Ukrainian partners in satellite launch service Sea
Launch, saying they refused to pay it more than $350 million
following the joint-venture's bankruptcy filing in 2009.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on
Friday, targeted RSC Energia, a company partially owned by the
Russian government, and two Ukrainian state-owned companies, PO
Yuzhnoye Mashinostroitelny Zavod and KB Yuzhnoye.
Boeing said it partnered with the companies, as well as
Norway's Kvaerner Moss Technology, in 1995 to create Sea Launch,
which focuses on launching commercial satellites into space.
The U.S. aerospace company said it provided substantial
funding for the venture, and the partners agreed that, if it
failed, they would reimburse Boeing their share of the funding.
Sea Launch sent its first satellite into space in 1999, but
filed for bankruptcy in 2009 because of weaker demand, mounting
debt and a failed launch that led to a $53.2 million arbitration
award against the company, Boeing said in its complaint.
Sea Launch emerged from bankruptcy in 2010. As part of the
plan of reorganization, a subsidiary of RSC Energia increased
its ownership to 95 percent from 25 percent, the lawsuit said.
Boeing and Kvaerner, now called Aker Maritime Finance AS, split
the remaining 5 percent.
In its complaint, Boeing said RSC Energia, also called S.P.
Koroley Rocket and Space Corporation Energia, tried to avoid
liability to Boeing and Aker.
When Sea Launch filed for bankruptcy, the banks that
financed the company made calls on loan guarantees, forcing
Boeing to pay out $449 million.
Boeing said RSC Energia and the Ukrainian companies are
required to pay their share of that sum. It initially pursued
reimbursement through an arbitration filed in 2009 with the
Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, but in 2010 the arbitrator said
it lacked jurisdiction. The case is now before the Swedish Court
Boeing said in its new lawsuit that RSC Energia owed at
least $222.3 million and the Yuzhnoye companies owed at least
Boeing said in its most recent quarterly report in October
that, in the event it cannot recover the money, it will incur
pre-tax charges of up to $356 million.
John Dern, a spokesman for Boeing, declined to comment. A
spokesman for Sea Launch also did not respond to a request for a
comment. A spokeswoman for the Yuzhnoye companies declined to
comment on Monday and representatives for RSC Energia were not
available for a comment.
The case is The Boeing Company v. KB Yuzhnoye, et al., U.S.
District Court, Central District of California, 13-00730.