SemGroup Execs Sue Catsimatidis

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Executives of SemGroup LP, the bankrupt U.S. oil and gas transportation company, are suing billionaire John Catsimatidis, accusing him of breaching a confidentiality agreement and seeking his ouster from its management committee.

In a complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, the executives said Catsimatidis “has attempted to hijack and control management’s reorganization effort.”

They accused Catsimatidis, who has said he controls five of nine seats on SemGroup’s management committee, of holding secret meetings with certain members of SemGroup’s management as part of an effort to “drive off current and prospective bidders” for SemGroup in his attempt to acquire the company.

The lawsuit asks that Catsimatidis and any allies be removed from the management committee, which is akin to a board of directors.

“I would rather be spending my time helping to facilitate development of a successful reorganization plan that maximizes value to all stake holders instead of being distracted by unproductive lawsuits,” Catsimatidis said in a statement Thursday.

SemGroup LP [SEMGP.UL] filed for bankruptcy protection in July 2008 after sustaining $3.2 billion in oil trading losses. It had earlier planned to liquidate.

Catsimatidis first publicly expressed interest in the company in December, saying he planned to work with creditors to develop a reorganization plan. In January, SemGroup said it wanted to consider all restructuring proposals, including any proposals submitted by Catsimatidis.

Catsimatidis said his restructuring plan is set to be presented to bank creditors this month.

The case is SemGroup LP et al v. John A. Catsimatidis et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 08-11525. (Reporting by Phil Wahba; Editing by Gary Hill)