China

Chinese satellite dispute to be heard by HKIAC tribunal

The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) is administering a dispute between British Virgin Islands-registered Bronzelink, the majority shareholder of a Cayman-registered satellite technology start-up, and its US founders Emil Youssefzadeh and Umar Javed, who claim they suffered retaliation after raising concerns about alleged Chinese government influence over the project.

Bronzelink filed a notice of arbitration under a 2016 shareholders agreement for satellite venture Global IP, seeking damages from Global IP’s founders Youssefzadeh and Umar Javed, accusing them of jeopardising the project and causing the collapse of a deal to launch a satellite over the African continent in collaboration with US aerospace company Boeing and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

The dispute concerns Global IP´s launch of a high-capacity satellite, contracting Boeing to build the satellite and also entering into a contract with SpaceX to put the satellite into orbit.

The two founders sold a majority interest in Global IP to Bronzelink in 2016 for a cash payment of US$175 million and a US$25 million line of credit. While they were aware that the funding came from an entity owned and controlled by the Chinese government, the founders said they received assurances that Bronzelink would be independent from the government. They allege they later fell victim to a fraudulent scheme by the Chinese government to obtain access to satellite and launch technology and data in violation of US export control laws.

India

Indian airline Indigo´s shareholders dispute to be heard by LCIA panel

The shareholder dispute between the billionaire co-founders of India’s largest airline, InterGlobe Aviation (IndiGo), is to be heard by an LCIA tribunal with the seat of the arbitration to be Delhi or London.

The dispute relates to a 2015 shareholders’ agreement for IndiGo, an Indian budget airline co-founded by InterGlobe Enterprises and its director Rahul Bhatia (together, the IGE Group) and Kolkata-born US billionaire Rakesh Gangwal. Bhatia is a non-executive director of the airline in which he and his affiliates have a 38% stake. Whereas Gangwal – the former CEO of US Airways Group, a predecessor of American Airlines Group – has a 37% holding in IndiGo.

According to IndiGo, the LCIA claim concerns the RG Group’s failure to comply with the shareholders’ agreement and articles of association.

Philipines

US Casino owner wins arbitration in Manila gaming resort dispute

The US owner of a premier gaming resort in Manila, Global Gaming Asset Management (GGAM) has obtained an award from an UNCITRAL tribunal against two subsidiaries of Philippine-registered Bloomberry Resorts to pay over US$296 million to buy out shares GGAM held in Bloomberry Resorts.

The dispute relates to a management services agreement Bloomberry Resorts entered into with GGAM for the management of the Solaire Resort & Casino, located in Manila. Bloomberry had signed a five-year management agreement with GGAM in 2012 but terminated the contract just a few months after the casino opened, accusing GGAM of failing to deliver on the terms of the agreement and citing concerns over the casino’s design and layout. GGAM filed for arbitration under the management agreement in September 2013.

The Singapore-seated tribunal ruled that Bloomberry had wrongfully terminated the management agreement and rejected the Philippine company’s allegations that it had been misled into signing the contract.

PCA tribunal to hear Chevron´s treaty claim against the Philippines

A tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is hearing an investment treaty claim brought by Chevron against the Philippines relating to an offshore gas field.

The UNCITRAL arbitration was filed by Chevron Overseas Finance, a Swiss subsidiary of the US oil company, under the 1997 Switzerland-Phillipines bilateral investment treaty, the underlying claim relating to the Malampaya gas field, located 80 kilometres north of the island of Palawan, which has been the subject of a long-running tax dispute giving rise to ICC and ICSID claims against the government.

Chevron holds a 45% stake in the field as does Shell – the field’s operator – with the remaining stake held by the state-owned Philippine National Oil Company.

Under a 1990 service contract agreed with the Philippines, the Chevron-Shell consortium was exempt from all taxes except income tax. However, in 2015, a Philippine body that oversees public finances decided the Department of Energy’s practice of sourcing the consortium’s taxes from the government’s share of the proceeds was an unlawful tax exemption. Shell and Chevron filed an ICC claim later that year.

Maldives

Maldives faces treaty claim in island development project

Maldives been hit with a treaty claim by Malaysian company WZR Property over a US$123 million contract to develop an office complex on a reclaimed island.

The claim was brought before the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) in Kuala Lumpur and relates to WZR´s successful bid to develop a 25-storey office complex. WZR entered into the US$123 million contract with the Maldives government in 2016.

In 2017, WZR and the government entered into a novation agreement with Maldivian state-owned Housing Development Corporation (HDC), which is responsible for undertaking construction projects on Hulhumalé.

WZR claims that it has not received any payment under the 2016 contract despite having completed 20% of the total project work and installing 60% of the pilings for its foundations.