May 22, 2013
BP willing to pay Bridas a US$700 million breakup fee
BP Plc sued Bridas Corp today over a collapsed $7.06 billion asset sale, saying it is willing to pay a $700 million breakup fee so long as it will not face fraud claims arising from its conduct.
The lawsuit stemmed from the November 2011 collapse of BP's plan to sell its 60 percent stake in crude oil producer Pan American Energy to Bridas, which owns the remainder and is Argentina's second-largest oil and gas company. Bridas is half-owned by Chinese oil giant CNOOC Ltd.
According to the complaint filed in US District Court in Manhattan, the sale agreement called for BP to pay the $700 million if Bridas released it from various claims.
The British oil company said it had wired the money after the transaction fell apart, only to have Bridas return it, claiming that the sale agreement was void from the start.
Nonetheless, BP said Bridas later demanded the money "without prejudice to any of Bridas' legal rights or positions."
Bridas "is seeking to have it both ways," BP said. "Bridas apparently continues to take the position that it was fraudulently induced to enter into the share purchase agreement and related contracts. That claim is frivolous."
Bridas did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The company had in November blamed "legal issues and the way BP handled the transaction" for the collapse of the sale.