MOSCOW Dec 3 Minority shareholders in
Anglo-Russian oil firm TNK-BP are withdrawing a 100
billion rouble ($3.2 billion) damages suit against BP
after the main stakeholders agreed last month to sell their
stakes to Russia's Rosneft.
A Siberian court in July awarded the damages against the
British oil major in a case brought by a group of minority
shareholders in TNK-BP's listed unit TNK-BP Holding. BP appealed
against the verdict.
BP lawyer Konstantin Lukoyanov said the case judge had
confirmed that the minorities had applied to withdraw their
suit. A hearing would be held on Dec. 14 at which the litigation
is expected to be formally dropped.
"Of course, we wouldn't object," Lukoyanov said on Monday.
The case stemmed from BP's failed attempt last year to forge
a partnership with state oil major Rosneft which fell apart
after it was blocked in the courts by AAR, a consortium that
represents four billionaire co-owners of TNK-BP.
The feuding partners at TNK-BP have since agreed to sell the
business to Rosneft for $55 billion and dropped all legal
disputes as they seek to wrap up what would be Russia's largest
ever takeover deal.
AAR has denied any connection to the minority lawsuit, which
was brought by a group of investors led by Andrey Prokhorov. The
minorities sought damages by arguing that the failed BP-Rosneft
deal would have harmed TNK-BP financially by excluding it from a
proposed offshore exploration alliance.
BP has repeatedly described the minority suit as absurd - a
position reiterated on Monday by Lukoyanov, who added that once
the case was dropped it could not be revived under Russian law.
"Their position is absolutely cynical," he said. "It shows
that this case was never brought in the interests of the company
(TNK-BP Holding) or its shareholders.
Lukoyanov confirmed earlier information from a source
familiar with the matter that the minority shareholders had
applied to the court to drop the case.
TNK-BP and lawyers for the minorities declined to comment.