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* Court hearings set for Nov. 10-11By Vladimir SoldatkinMOSCOW, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Oil company BP’s 50 percent-owned Russian affiliate TNK-BP will find itself fighting its British parent in court for billions of dollars in compensation if a board decision next week goes the way of the other main shareholders.BP and the quartet of billionaires who hold the other half of Russia’s third largest oil producer clashed over BP’s attempt to open up a new Russian investment stream and strike a new exploration and share swap deal with state-controlled Rosneft.Through their Alfa-Access-Renova (AAR) consortium, the group of Russian businessmen succesfully blocked the Rosneft deal in May. Rosneft has since turned to U.S. based Exxon as a replacement partner.Now minority shareholders in the listed subsidiary of 50-50 joint venture TNK-BP Ltd, TNK-BP Holding, are seeking damages of over $13 billion in a Russian regional court.AAR has said it has no connection with the suit brought by the TNK-BP minority shareholders. But sources close to the consortium representing four tycoons — Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, Viktor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik — have said they are sympathetic to the action.Directors have put forward a motion to be discussed on Oct. 24 that the company should back the lawsuit, a TNK-BP spokesman said on Tuesday.”At the request of one of the TNK-BP Holding (THB) directors, on Oct. 24 the Board of Directors of TBH will consider the question of whether or not to join the lawsuit being put forward by one of its minority shareholders,” the spokesman said.TNK-BP Holding has a nine-member board — with four each for BP and AAR. The sole independent director, David Lasfargue, would have an effective casting vote on whether to pursue the action.”The prerogative of deciding TBH participation in these legal proceedings lies within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Board of Directors of TNK-BP Holding and does not involve participation of the company’s management,” the TNK-BP spokesman added.In the lawsuit, filed in the West Siberian town of Tyumen, TNK-BP’s base, minority shareholder Andrey Prokhorov claims TNK-BP suffered damages because BP decided not to act via its existing Russian joint venture in the Rosneft deal, in violation of an exclusivity clause in the TNK-BP shareholder agreement.
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