Jef Feeley, Bloomberg News
WILMINTON, Delaware. U.S.
EnergiesNet.com 11 30 2023
The US parent of Citgo Petroleum Corp. can post a $10,000 bond to reissue a missing official stock certificate needed as part of an auction of the refiner, a judge said in a ruling that helps clear the way for the company’s sale.
Delaware Chancery Court Judge Paul Fioravanti found Tuesday there was no dispute the official stock certificate covering 1,000 shares of Citgo’s US parent was lost or destroyed. He also said Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA — Citgo’s ultimate owner — didn’t have to pay a bond worth billions to cover the reissuance.
“The court concludes that a nominal, unsecured bond is appropriate,” Fioravanti wrote in a 45-page ruling.
The auction could raise some $14 billion to cover arbitration awards issued against Venezuela as well as other claims arising from a wave of nationalizations begun by late President Hugo Chavez in the 2000s. There’s a January deadline for formal bids as part of a federal court case in Delaware seeking to enforce the arbitration awards.
“The judge did what he was required to do under the law,” said Charles Elson, a retired University of Delaware professor who once ran the school’s Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance. “The loss of a certificate doesn’t mean there’s some question about the ownership. Its just the paperwork related to ownership.”
PDV Holding Inc., Citgo’s direct US parent, had asked for a bond of as much as $2 billion to cover the potential that a party may sue over the missing certificate. Due to fraught relations between the US and socialist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, PDVH is controlled by the Venezuelan opposition while PDVSA remains in the hands of the government in Caracas.
Horacio Medina, a member the Venezuela’s political opposition and the head of the ad-hoc board that supervises PDVSA’s foreign units, said Tuesday the oil company would put up the $10,000 bond as long as US regulators gave their blessing. The US recently lifted sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry, but is still monitoring operations. Officials of the opposition-controlled PDVH board weren’t immediately available for comment.
Crystallex International Corp., a Canadian mining firm whose rights to the Las Cristinas gold field were seized by Chavez, is first in line to receive a hefty slice of the auction’s funds. A World Bank arbitration panel in 2016 found that Venezuela owed Crystallex $1.4 billion. Venezuela has paid some of it, but Crystallex is still seeking to recover about $1 billion.
Other foreign firms pushed out of Venezuela include Siemens AG, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp. A pair of Exxon’s oil projects were expropriated in 2007, and the company is now seeking to have $984 million in claims recognized.
The chancery case is Petróleos de Venezuela SA v. PDV Holding, 2023-0778, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington). The federal arbitration case is Crystallex International Corp. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, 17-mc-00151, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
–With assistance from Nicolle Yapur.
bloomberg.com 11 29 2023