French court allows Cairn to seize 20 Indian govt properties in Paris

Assets are worth more than £20 million; FinMIn says no communication received in the matter Cairn is also eyeing assets in US, UK, Canada, Singapore, Mauritius and Holland


Cairn Energy | Modi govt | Real Estate

London-listed Cairn Energy Plc is eyeing high-value assets of the Indian government in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore, Mauritius, France and the Netherlands. Cairn has got a favourable order from a French court for seizing 20 properties of the Indian government in that country valued at more than £20 million.

A French court, Tribunal judiciaire de Paris, ordered freezing (through judicial mortgages) of residential real estate owned by the Government of India in central Paris. The court order affects some 20 centrally located properties, belonging to the Indian Government and valued at more than $20 million Euros, as part of a guarantee of the debt owed to Cairn Energy PLC. “This is the necessary preparatory step to taking ownership of the properties and ensures that the proceeds of any sales would be due to Cairn,” said the spokesperson.

The Union ministry of finance on its part said it did not receive any notice, order or communication, in this regard, from any French court. “The government is trying to ascertain the facts, and whenever such an order is received, appropriate legal remedies will be taken, in consultation with its Counsels, to protect the interests of India,” the finance ministry said in an official statement.

It added that the government has already filed an application on March 22, 2021, to set aside the December 2020 international arbitral award in The Hague Court of Appeal. “Government of India will vigorously defend its case in Set Aside proceedings at The Hague,” the statement said.

The company last month filed a petition with the courts in the Southern District of New York, seeking judicial confirmation that Air India, the national carrier, can be classed as “the alter ego of the Indian state” and thereby jointly liable for the arbitral award. The arbitration award has also been registered in many other jurisdictions, including the US, UK, Canada, Singapore, Mauritius, France and the Netherlands, said a company spokesperson.

He said action in France is the latest step in Cairn’s enforcement strategy of pursuing the Indian Government across multiple jurisdictions for its unpaid international arbitration award of $1.7bn.

“Our strong preference remains an agreed, amicable settlement with the Government of India to draw this matter to a close, and to that end we have submitted a detailed series of proposals to them since February this year. However, in the absence of such a settlement, Cairn must take all necessary legal actions to protect the interests of its international shareholders,” said the spokesperson.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor