Willkie Represents the Republic of Kyrgyzstan on Pending and Future Investment Arbitrations

March 19, 2020

Willkie is representing the Republic of Kyrgyzstan in four pending UNCITRAL cases in the telecoms, hydropower and metallurgical sectors.

Willkie is representing the Republic of Kyrgyzstan in four pending UNCITRAL cases worth a combined $442 million, brought by investors in the telecoms, hydropower and metallurgical sectors.

The cases have been brought respectively by British Virgin Islands entity Penwell Business, Russian entity RusHydro, two Swiss subsidiaries of Dutch-registered telecoms group Veon, and a Kazakh state-owned mineral processing company. All four cases are being administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

Penwell: Penwell filed its claim in 2017 under Kyrgyzstan’s 2003 investment law. It seeks $298 million for the alleged expropriation of its controlling interest in Kyrgyz mobile phone operator Megacom. The operator was part-nationalized after the country’s 2010 revolution and has been 100% owned by a state fund since 2014.

RusHydro: RusHydro’s $37 million claim, launched in 2018, concerns a cancelled project for the construction and exploitation of a set of hydroelectric power plants. It is being heard by a Hong Kong-seated UNCITRAL tribunal. The case is brought under a 2012 agreement between the Russian and Kyrgyz governments relating to the hydro project, as well as an investment protocol annexed to the 2014 Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union.

VIP Kyrgyzstan Holding and Menacrest: Veon (formerly known as Vimpelcom) is bringing its claim through two Swiss subsidiaries, VIP Kyrgyzstan Holding and Menacrest. They seek $58 million in compensation for tax and other measures taken against Kyrgyz mobile phone operator Sky Mobile. The case is brought under the Switzerland-Kyrgyzstan bilateral investment treaty and the country’s 2003 investment law.

Finally, Kyrgyzstan is fighting a $49.9 million claim by a Kazakh state-owned company called the National Center on Complex Processing of Mineral Raw Materials. The case concerns the construction of a ferroalloy plant.

The arbitration is brought under the Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan bilateral investment treaty.

The Willkie team is led by partner Grégoire Bertrou and includes associate Sergey Alekhin.