Transocean Appeals Dividend Ruling

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Transocean, the world's largest provider of offshore drilling services, said today it is appealing a 2010 ruling by a Swiss court that barred the company from paying a dividend due to the potential for unknown liabilities stemming from the company's roll in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Switzerland-based Transocean (RIG) owned the Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and creating the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The company said it has appealed a December decision in a lower court to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.

Transocean was planning a $1 billion dividend, its first in eight years, but a Swiss court blocked the plan in August and another court upheld the decision in December. Transocean Chief Executive Steven Newman said in November the company may consider a different avenue of dividend payment early this year once Swiss tax law changes to allow it, Reuters reported.

In 2009, the company moved its headquarters from Houston to Switzerland in a move heavily criticized as a gambit to avoid paying too much in taxes to the U.S. government. Since the dividend was initially blocked, Transocean has adamantly fought for permission to proceed with the payout.