Anadarko Petroleum and Kerr-McGee Corp. behaved improperly in their 2006 merger and should be held responsible for at least some of Kerr-McGee spinoff Tronox Ltd.'s billions of dollars in environmental liabilities, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge ruled Thursday.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Allan Gropper held in his 166-page opinion issued Thursday that Kerr-McGee foisted responsibility for 85 years worth of polluted Kerr-McGee sites onto Tronox to make the company a more attractive candidate to sell to a larger company like Anadarko.
Houston-based Anadarko could be held liable for damages between $5 billion to $14 billion in the case, plus attorneys' fees and other costs, but the judge will allow Anadarko and Kerr-McGee to argue whether the damages should be partially offset before assessing a final number, the opinion said.
Gropper levied the opinion one year to the day after the close of a seven-month trial in the case ended in a federal bankruptcy court in New York in December 2012.
Bud Grebey, a spokesman for Tronox, said the company could not immediately comment, as it was still evaluating the court's ruling on Thursday night.
“Given the significant factual evidence supporting our position, we vehemently disagree with the Judge's Memorandum of Opinion, and we fully expect to pursue every avenue available to us through the appellate process to protect the interests of our stakeholders, once a final judgment including damages has been rendered,” said Al Walker, Anadarko chairman, president and CEO.