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Italian bank ordered to pay $480mn over scrapped Russian deal

UniCredit was among the guarantors for a failed gas plant project between Gazprom and Germany’s Linde

A Russian court has ordered Italy’s UniCredit bank to pay €448.2 million ($479.44 million) over an aborted joint venture between Russian energy major Gazprom and Germany’s Linde, according to a court document.   

UniCredit was among the guarantor lenders in the deal to build a gas processing plant in Ust Luga, near St. Petersburg, through a joint venture called RusChemAlliance, 50% owned by Gazprom. The project was scrapped due to Western sanctions over the Ukraine conflict.    

The St. Petersburg-based RusChemAlliance filed a lawsuit as part of a claim to seek compensation from UniCredit for allegedly failing to honor its obligations when the deal fell through.  

“The claim is satisfied in full,” the St. Petersburg Arbitration Court said in a filing.   

Linde, a German industrial and engineering company, struck a deal with RusChemAlliance to build the plant in 2021. However, the firm pulled out of the contract in the wake of the Ukraine conflict, saying the decision was in compliance with Western sanctions, according to a 2022 company report.  

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Last month, the Arbitration Court of St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region took interim measures on the RusChemAlliance claim against UniCredit. The Italian bank requested that the process be canceled, but the court instead ruled to seize property and assets worth €462.67 million ($494.4 million) from UniCredit’s business in Russia.   

UniCredit said in May that the seizure affected only a fraction of its Russian unit’s assets, not the entire subsidiary.

UniCredit is one of the few EU lenders which continues to operate in Russia, after a number of foreign banks left the country due to the West’s Ukraine-related sanctions. A subsidiary of the Italian bank enables euro payments to and from Russia, and is included in the Russian central bank’s list of 13 systemically important credit institutions.  

The Russian court’s move comes after the EU imposed its 14th round of sanctions targeting Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) earlier this month. Brussels has banned the re-export of Russian LNG via the bloc, although deliveries for use within the EU remain unaffected.

June 27, 2024 at 03:17PM
RT

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