August 29, 2017 — Hughes Hubbard led French nuclear giant Areva to a resounding victory in an arbitration brought by a prominent Belgian businessman seeking 150 million euros over a failed joint venture to mine uranium in the Central African Republic.
On July 28, the International Chamber of Commerce Court of Arbitration in Paris ruled unanimously in favor of Areva subsidiary CFMM in its dispute with mining entrepreneur Georges Arthur Forrest. Forrest is the owner of Groupe Forrest International, a group of companies founded in the Belgian Congo around the mining industry in 1922. It is active mostly in Central and East Africa.
In June 2009, CFMM teamed up with Forrest to explore for uranium in the Bakouma region of the Central African Republic. The partners entered a JV called Areva Explo, with a 70 percent stake for Areva and the rest owned by Forrest. The JV held seven permits sourced by Forrest for the exploration of uranium in the Bakouma region. The business failed to launch and the permits lapsed. In June 2013, shareholders voted to dissolve the JV, despite Forrest's opposition.
Forrest commenced arbitration against CFMM in July 2014, arguing that CFMM's decision not to renew the permits represented mismanagement in its capacity as a director of the company; and by voting to dissolve the company, CFMM abused its position as a majority shareholder to the detriment of Forrest as a minority shareholder and against the company's corporate interest. Forrest sought 150 million euros from CFMM and the annulment of the decision to dissolve the JV. CFMM filed a counterclaim against Forrest for abuse of process and breach of fiduciary duty.
The tribunal rejected Georges Arthur Forrest's claims on all counts, giving CFMM a decisive win.
Sena Agbayissah, Agnès Braka-Calas and Rhidian David represented CFMM in this matter.