Back when global investors still believed Prime Minister Narendra Modi would keep his promise to end the previous regime’s “tax terror,” his newly elected government made a costly error. In March 2015, someone in India’s labyrinthine bureaucracy decided to send a revenue demand to U.K.’s Cairn Energy Plc — ruining Chief Executive Officer Simon Thomson’s birthday.
This March 10, Thomson has every reason to celebrate both his birthday and victory in a tortuous legal saga that ended right before Christmas with a $1.2 billion international arbitration award in Cairn’s favor. But there’s still one big glitch: The check that should have been in the bank by now isn’t even in the mail. That raises the unpleasant prospect of a private company having to legally seize sovereign property globally, a course of action some of its shareholders are starting to recommend.