MOSCOW/LONDON (Reuters) - The management board of Anglo-Russian oil firm TNK-BP Ltd has asked its board of directors to sue shareholder BP (BP.L) for billions of dollars in damages over BP’s failed alliance with Rosneft, sources said on Tuesday.
“The management board has recommended to the board to consider doing this and it is expected that when it meets in November this issue will be discussed,” one source close to the local shareholders said.
A simple majority vote on the 11-member board of TNK-BP Ltd, a 50-50 joint venture between BP and a quartet of Soviet-born billionaires, would be necessary to pass the motion to join a damages suit brought by a minority shareholder in the listed subsidiary TNK-BP Holding TNBP.MM.
“As far as I know, it’s a simple majority,” one legal source familiar with the matter said. Sources close to the company and its shareholders also said this was the case.
On Monday the board of TNK-BP Holding had voted against the listed company joining the lawsuit, since a near unanimous decision from the directors on the listed company was required.
The local owners of TNK-BP Ltd are already pushing for damages in arbitration proceedings that earlier found the BP-Rosneft deal violated TNK-BP’s right of first refusal to be the vehicle for any of the British company’s business ventures in Russia.
Andrey Prokhorov, a minority shareholder in TNK-BP Ltd’s listed unit, TNK-BP Holding, has filed a lawsuit against BP in a Russian court seeking 409 billion roubles ($13 billion) in damages for not involving TNK-BP in the tie-up with Rosneft.
Both the Financial Times and Russian financial daily Kommersant said on Tuesday that outgoing deputy chief executive Maxim Barsky had written to TNK-BP Ltd’s directors urging them to join the minority lawsuit.
The FT also quoted a legal opinion that “there are strong grounds for the company pursuing legal claims arising out of the events involving BP and Rosneft.”
The board of TNK-BP Ltd comprises four BP nominees, four from AAR — the consortium representing the local shareholders — and three independents.
BP and TNK-BP, which were announcing third-quarter results on Tuesday, declined to comment.
Reporting by Douglas Busvine and Tom Bergin; Editing by Greg Mahlich