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Russian court orders Sistema to pay $2.3bn to Rosneft over Bashneft dispute

A Russian regional appeals court has ordered Sistema to pay RUB136.27bn ($2.32bn) to Rosneft and Bashneft as compensation to settle a dispute related to assets.

The Eighteenth Arbitration Court of Appeal in Chelyabinsk quashed Sistema’s appeal against the ruling of the Arbitration Court of the Republic of Bashkortostan in late August.

As per the court ruling, Sistema and Sistema Invest have to pay for damages that were suffered allegedly by Bashneft following its restructuring in 2014.

Sistema says that it intends to execute the court’s order in compliance with procedure established by law. At the same time, it will challenge the ruling of the appeal court by filing a cassation appeal to the Arbitration Court of the Urals District within the time limit it has as per law.

Sistema, in a statement, said: “The Corporation is servicing and plans to continue to service its credit and other financial obligations in a timely manner and in full.”

The Russian conglomerate had bought a controlling stake in Bashneft in 2009 for $2.5bn. Five years later, the Russian government claiming that the privatization of Bashneft was not legal had seized the stake of Sistema in the oil company.

In October 2016, state-owned oil giant Rosneft bought a controlling interest of about 50% in Bashneft for RUB329.69bn ($5.58bn) from the government.

However, in May 2017, Rosneft accused Sistema of removing certain assets from Bashneft during the latter’s ownership. As a result, Rosneft filed a lawsuit demanding Sistema to pay it RUB171bn ($2.89bn) as damages.

Rosneft alleged that Sistema’s actions and breaches had forced it to raise several billions of funds to restore the industrial safety of the assets of Bashneft.

Sistema, in turn, has accused Rosneft of trying to drive it into bankruptcy with the lawsuit. The company has filed a counter lawsuit against Rosneft and Bashneft in the Arbitration Court of the City of Moscow, demanding RUB330.5bn ($5.58bn) as compensation.