Ex-Yukos shareholders seize $0.7bn of Russian assets in France

By bne IntelliNews April 12, 2016

French court has seized $700mn worth of payments to Russian space companies Roscosmos and Russian Satellite Communications as part of the case of ex-shareholders of oil company Yukos, newswires reported on April 11, citing the American Lawyer magazine.

France has so far seized $1bn worth of assets after the Kremlin refused to pay $50bn of the damages awarded by the Hague international arbitration court in July 2014 to the shareholders of Yukos.

Yukos was broken up and its chief assets sold at knockdown prices to Russian state holdings after the arrest and jailing of founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky for tax fraud.

The company's assets were allegedly acquired by state-controlled Rosneft, now Russia's largest company in terms of capitalisation, through a series of indirect auctions in 2004.

The assets seized by the French authorities include $400mn owed by French satellite provider Eutelsat to the Russian Satellite Communications company and $300mn owned by French space launch provider Arianespace to Russia's Roscosmos state space agency, according to Shearman & Sterling, who represent the Yukos shareholders.

The information was confirmed to the RBC portal by the GML representatives (owning the Hulley Enterprises and Yukos Universal companies that won the lawsuit against Russia), without elaborating on the amount of transfers seized.

At the same time, Russia has appealed the actions of the French authorities, with the decision to be expected in April.

On January 28, Kommersant daily reported that the Swedish Court of Appeals ruled that Stockholm arbitration cannot demand compensation from Russia for the expropriation of the Yukos oil company.

The ruling enables Russia to demand that arbitration in 2012 on behalf of Spanish investors in Yukos now cancel its demand for $2mn plus interest from Russia.

It also strengthens Russia's hand in challenging rulings in The Hague in 2014 that awarded $50bn in damages to shareholders in Russia's once largest oil company.

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