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29 May, 2008 08:16

Merger to create world’s biggest metals company

Russian tycoons Alisher Usmanov and Vladimir Potanin have announced they are planning a tie-up that could see Usmanov gain up to 10 per cent of metals giant Norilsk Nickel.

Kommersant business daily reports that the partners are aiming to invest between $US 50 billion and 60 billion to set up the world’s biggest mining and metallurgical company.

The newspaper says they aim to oppose the consolidating activity of the government.  However, they intend to keep the state informed of their plans and hope for its support. 

Usmanov and Potanin have said they are open to inviting the owner of Rusal, Oleg Deripaska, into their negotiations.

Rusal bought a 25%-plus-one-share stake in Norilsk last month.

This is the first time that three-way cooperation between Potanin's Norilsk, Usmanov's Metalloinvest and Deripaska's Rusal has been publicly suggested by the major players.

However, Metalloinvest has called off official merger talks with Norilsk Nickel, just hours before the Usmanov-Potanin announcement.

Analyst Vladimir Zhukov from Lehman Brothers investment bank told RT that after Metalloinvest becomes a public company it will be able to offer its equity to the Norilsk shareholders. This could force Rusal to cooperate.