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US Supreme Court rejects challenge to F-35 sales to South Korea



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By Mike Scarcella

June 17 (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by international deals broker Blenheim Capital alleging it was cut out of a multibillion-dollar transaction involving South Korea’s purchase of F-35 fighter jets and a satellite.

The justices without comment turned away an appeal by Blenheim of a decision by the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said the deal involving South Korea and defense giants Lockheed Martin and Airbus was a military transaction beyond the reach of U.S. courts.

Blenheim alleged in its lawsuit that Lockheed and Airbus conspired to eliminate it from the South Korea deal, which Blenheim said cost it hundreds of millions of dollars in lost compensation.

Blenheim founder and chief executive Grant Rogan said in a statement on Monday that the company was disappointed by the decision. "Our concern is and remains that this has set a precedent in which confusion will prevail in the lower courts," he said.

Representatives for Lockheed and Airbus did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lockheed and Airbus denied Blenheim's claims.

The U.S. Justice Department had urged the justices not to take up the dispute. Lockheed also asked the justices to leave the November 2022 4th Circuit ruling in place.

Blenheim specializes in corporate and governmental deals involving “offsets,” where a buyer receives some additional goods or services apart from the core transaction to help lower overall costs.

Blenheim in 2021 sued South Korea, Lockheed and Airbus in Virginia federal court, alleging violations of U.S. antitrust law and interference with its brokerage arrangement. The company later dropped its antitrust claim.

Blenheim said between 2011 and 2016 it developed and began to implement a deal in which South Korea would buy 40 F-35s from Lockheed — valued at about $7 billion — and receive a military satellite as an offset from Airbus. Blenheim was the offset broker to Lockheed.

Blenheim in its Supreme Court appeal argued that an exception in federal law for "commercial activity" should trump South Korea's immunity claim.

Offset transactions are commercial because they are “executed and implemented directly between the private defense contractor and the foreign government,” Blenheim argued.

The Justice Department countered that South Korea’s purchase of fighter jets and a military satellite were interconnected and a matter for U.S. government review and approval.

“South Korea did not act as a private player in a market when it purchased F-35s and engaged in the connected offset transaction,” the Justice Department said in its filing.


The case is Blenheim Capital Holdings Ltd et al v. Lockheed Martin Corp et al, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 22-886.

For Blenheim: Hamish Hume of Boies Schiller Flexner

For Lockheed: Nicole Saharsky of Mayer Brown

For United States: Elizabeth Prelogar of the Justice Department


Read more:

White House urges Supreme Court to reject case over F-35 sales to South Korea





Reporting by Mike Scarcella

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