Metal giant's owners fail to divorce amicably

Billionaires Vladimir Potanin and Mikhail Prokhorov have come a step closer to dividing up their assets. Holding firm KM Invest, which belongs to them, will sell 2% of the world's largest nickel miner Norilsk Nickel and 7.4% of gold producer Polyus.

It remains unknown who will buy the shares or what Prokhorov will do with the 25% that he still holds in Norilsk Nickel and is looking to sell.

Metals senior analyst Michael Kavanagh at Uralsib Bank says the dispute is damaging the running of the company.

“The uncertainty and potential difficulty of making decisions means that the day-to-day management of this company is essentially going to be on hold,” said Kavanagh.

Tim McCutcheon, a managing partner of DBM-Capital and an expert on metals markets, is sure that in reality there is only one possible buyer of Prokhorov’s 25% stake in Norilsk Nickel.

“If you think about the size of the deal that is required for Mr Potanin to buy his partner’s stake – well over $US 15 billion, all in cash – frankly it was sort of a ”pie in the sky“ type deal. It is understood from the day one that Potanin would not be able to fulfill those terms set for him by Prokhorov. So only Rusal’s will be able to buy Prokhorov’s stake, giving him stake in Rusal plus cash,” commented McCutcheon.