Boeing sues Sea Launch partners for $350 million

Mon Feb 4, 2013 1:13pm EST
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By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Boeing Co (BA.N: Quote) has sued its Russian and Ukrainian partners in satellite launch service Sea Launch, saying they refused to pay it more than $350 million following the joint-venture's bankruptcy filing in 2009.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Friday, targeted RSC Energia, a company partially owned by the Russian government, and two Ukrainian state-owned companies, PO Yuzhnoye Mashinostroitelny Zavod and KB Yuzhnoye.

Boeing said it partnered with the companies, as well as Norway's Kvaerner Moss Technology, in 1995 to create Sea Launch, which focuses on launching commercial satellites into space.

The U.S. aerospace company said it provided substantial funding for the venture, and the partners agreed that, if it failed, they would reimburse Boeing their share of the funding.

Sea Launch sent its first satellite into space in 1999, but filed for bankruptcy in 2009 because of weaker demand, mounting debt and a failed launch that led to a $53.2 million arbitration award against the company, Boeing said in its complaint.

Sea Launch emerged from bankruptcy in 2010. As part of the plan of reorganization, a subsidiary of RSC Energia increased its ownership to 95 percent from 25 percent, the lawsuit said. Boeing and Kvaerner, now called Aker Maritime Finance AS, split the remaining 5 percent.

In its complaint, Boeing said RSC Energia, also called S.P. Koroley Rocket and Space Corporation Energia, tried to avoid liability to Boeing and Aker.

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