RBK requests that Rosneft officials be summoned to court
The Russian independent media holding RBC, which is being sued by the state-owned oil company Rosneft for more than 3 billion rubles ($47.4 million), has requested that state officials be summoned to its court hearing. This request appeared as an editorial published on December 8.
The publication believes that the government will have to confirm that the management of Rosneft warned the Cabinet of Ministers about the possible risks involved in privatization (the claim that RBK had made made in the article and that which became the precise cause of lawsuit).
The editorial did not mention whose presence in particular RBK would request at court. The publication requested that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin, and the Economic Development Ministry Director of Corporate Development Oksana Tarasenko confirm the details of its article, but has yet to receive a response. The publication sent a request to the cabinet of Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, but the latter declined to comment.
The next hearing is scheduled for December 12th.
Rosneft filed a lawsuit against RBK after the latter published an article called “Sechin has asked the government to protect the Rosneft from BP”, in April. The publication said that the head of Rosneft asked the government to forbid the future buyer of a 19.5 percent stake in the company from entering into a shareholders’ agreement with another investor – BP – so as to prevent the latter from gaining a blocking stake in the Russian oil giant.
Rosneft claims that the article caused damage to the company's reputation and estimates this damage at 3.179 billion rubles (approximately $50.3 million). It has also claimed that this damage has allegedly brought about a deterioration in Rosneft's relations with BP. RBK maintains, however, that the companies' relationship has not deteriorated, but has, in fact, improved with the launch of a joint venture.
According to RBK, the accuracy of the information published in the article is confirms, in particular, by the fact that future buyer of the 19.5 percent stake in question has been obliged to enter into a shareholders' agreement with the public Russian shareholder Rosneftegas. "By signing this agreement, the buyers of the 19.5 percent in Rosneft (namely, a Glencore and Qatar Investment Authority consortium) will not be able to merge its stake with that of BP and veto an decisions made by the board of Russia's largest oil companies," the newspaper wrote.