26 Aug 2009 14:40

Court approves settlement between ZMB and RussNeft

MOSCOW. Aug 26 (Interfax) - The Moscow Arbitration Court approved an amicable agreement between LLC Zapadno-Malobalykskoye (ZMB), which is a joint venture between RussNeft and Hungary's MOL, regarding a claim for 6.1 billion rubles that the joint venture filed against the Russian oil company and which was subsequently increased to 6.5 billion rubles.

A court official told Interfax that RussNeft agreed to pay 6.1 billion rubles in principal debt plus penalties of 200 million rubles in equal monthly installments over a period of 18 months.

The court closed the case.

The Yukos oil company and MOL set the ZMB joint venture up on equal terms in March 2003.

ZMB has been involved in two other court cases related to RussNeft since the start of 2009. Verdicts were issued on both cases in April.

MOL earlier filed a suit against RussNeft and ZMB itself, seeking to invalidate an agreement for the purchase-sale of oil in 2008 and to return 5.8 billion rubles of debt for the sold oil to ZMB. A court refused to satisfy the claim on April 3.

But the Moscow Arbitration Court on April 23 did satisfy a suit brought by Samaraneftegaz, which is a Rosneft subsidiary, against RussNeft and ordered the latter to pay more than 5 billion rubles, placing an injunction on 50% of ZMB. The Ninth Arbitration Appeals Court upheld this ruling.

A lawyer for Samaraneftegaz told the court that the company had been a Yukos creditor and that claims for more than 18 billion rubles had been recognized. Claims of approximately 12 billion rubles were granted, and the suit was filed to recover the remaining 5 billion rubles or so.

RussNeft acquired Yukos' stake in ZMB from several offshore companies in 2005, before Yukos went bankrupt.