Wednesday, October 14, 2009, 10/14/2009 10:35:00 AM

Saudi Prince Claims Swiss-Based Drilling Company Stole His Trade Secrets

By Todd

Transocean, the world's largest offshore drilling company, was sued by a member of the Saudi royal family who claims he was cheated of his share of multimillion-dollar contracts won using his trade secrets.

Soroof International Co., a Saudi trading agency run by Prince Bander Bin Abdullah Al Saud, claims Transocean reneged on a signed 2007 agreement that would have made the prince's firm Transocean's sole agent for pursuing drilling contracts with Aramco, the Saudi Arabian national oil company.

“Instead, using confidential and proprietary information and trade secrets obtained from Soroof, Transocean pursued these opportunities through what appeared to be a competitor, GlobalSantaFe Corp., which — unbeknownst to Soroof — Transocean was in the process of acquiring,” lawyers for the prince's firm said in a suit filed this week in Houston federal court.

Soroof is seeking more than $50 million in compensatory damages and lost profits and at least $90 million in punitive damages. The suit claims Geneva, Switzerland-based Transocean fraudulently induced Soroof to become its Saudi agent to gain leverage in a bid to acquire GlobalSantaFe, a primary competitor that was at the time dominant in the Saudi drilling market.

The complaint claims Transocean owes Soroof 3.5 percent commission on Aramco drilling contracts that are paying, on average, $170,000 a day per rig. The suit was originally filed in Texas state court in Houston in August and removed to federal court yesterday.


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