Cairn Energy ready to drop suit on Air India after settlement of $1bn


In court litigation against UK-based Cairn Energy PLC and Air India which was filed in a New York court, came to an ending with UK company ready to settle within a couple of days of getting a $1 billion refund.

On Tuesday, September 7, Cairn Energy said it will drop litigations to seize Indian properties in countries ranging from France to the US. The firm, which gave India its biggest on-land oil discovery, termed “bold” the legislation passed last month to cancel a 2012 policy that gave the tax department power to go back 50 years and slap capital gains levies wherever ownership had changed hands overseas but business assets were in India.

The offer to return money seized to enforce retrospective tax demand in lieu of dropping all litigations against the government “is acceptable to us,” Cairn CEO Simon Thomson told PTI in an interview from London.

Cairn will drop cases to seize diplomatic apartments in Paris and Air India airplanes in the US in “a matter of a couple of days” after the refund, he said adding Cairn’s shareholders are in agreement with accepting the offer and moving on.

“Some of our core shareholders likes BlackRock and Franklin Templeton agree (to this). Our view is supported by our core shareholders (that) on balance it is better to accept and move on and be pragmatic. Rather than continue with something negative for all parties which could last for many years,” he said.

Seeking to repair India’s damaged reputation as an investment destination, the government last month enacted new legislation to drop ₹1.1 lakh crore in outstanding claims against multinationals such as telecoms group Vodafone, a pharmaceuticals company Sanofi and brewer SABMiller, now owned by AB InBev, and Cairn.

About ₹8,100 crore collected from companies under the scrapped tax provision are to be refunded if the firms agreed to drop outstanding litigation, including claims for interest and penalties. Of this, ₹7,900 crore is due only to Cairn.

“Once we get to final resolution, part of that resolution is us dropping everything in terms of litigation. We can do that within a very short period of time, just a matter of a couple of days or something,” Thomson said. “So we are preparing on the basis of getting this resolution quickly, all these cases being dropped, and putting all this behind.”