French multinational Rubis is engaged in a Sh4.1 billion legal dispute with Gulf Energy Ltd regarding its value in the 2019 buyout deal.
According to a court petition supported by the affidavit of Gulf Energy Chief Executive Francis Njogu, Rubis Energy Kenya is said to have recovered from servers and reformatted laptops of former employees information relating to the business of Gulf Energy using forensic data recovery specialists.
“As a result of the recovered data, the respondent (Rubis Energy Kenya) proceeded to demand from the petitioner (Gulf Energy Ltd) a sum of at least $41 million (Sh4.4 billion) in the alleged overstatement of the value of the Gulf Energy Holdings Ltd (GEHL) shares,” states court documents.
“The respondent through the said notice also demanded access to the petitioner’s books and records for the period up to December 13, 2019.”
Gulf Energy said the documents obtained by Rubis through the data mining from its servers formed part of its private and confidential information and were not part of the data to be transferred to GEHL in the deal.
On November 4, 2019, Rubis acquired Gulf Energy Holdings Ltd, a special purpose company housing part of the oil marketing assets and businesses of Gulf Energy Ltd.
At the time of the deal, Gulf Energy further owned two fuel depots in Mombasa and Nairobi along with a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage and filling plant and reported Sh3.2 billion in turnover in 2018.
The firm also had a cumulative sale of 470,000 coal-bed methane (CBM) of petroleum products in 2018 and was dealing in retail (46 gas station), a commercial business supplying power plants and large industrial consumers, a sizeable share of the aviation fuels, LPG and lubricants markets.
Gulf Energy wants the court to declare that Rubis Energy has violated or threatened its rights to privacy, rights of access to information and property.
The firm further wanted the court to declare Rubis Energy’s move in acquiring, using or seeking to use the information that includes working papers allegedly used for the preparation of the KPMG report and the 2019 specific accounts, its audited financial statements for the financial years 2016, 2017 and 2018 illegal.
The information in question also includes its management accounts dated November 2019, emails and letters.
The firm is also seeking an injunction restraining Rubis from using the information retrieved from the servers and laptops of employees as well as damages for violation of the rights listed.
“In Summary, I find the respondent’s preliminary objection dated March 19, 2021, merited and I uphold it, the consequence is that the petition and notice of motion dated March 16, 2021, are struck out,” stated Justice Weldon Korir in a ruling delivered on May 31, 2021.