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13 Oct, 2007 05:00

Metal tycoon fails to rejoin NorNickel board

Norilsk Nickel co-owner Mikhail Prokhorov has suffered a setback in his attempt to rejoin the company’s board. At Friday's extraordinary general meeting shareholders of Norilsk Nickel voted against any change to existing directors.

The slow divorce of the business partners behind Norilsk Nickel, Vladimir Potanin and Mikhail Prokhorov, looks set to drag on. Earlier this year, Prokhorov agreed to sell his shares in Norilsk Nickel to Potanin.  He even stepped down as the company’s Chief Executive.

But he later changed his mind and called an emergency general meeting to elect a new board of directors, putting himself forward as candidate.

But on Friday he failed to win shareholder backing. The proposal for a new board was supported by only 3 per cent of the shareholders who voted.

Potanin’s company, Interros, abstained from the vote while Prokhorov’s Onexim group voted against.

“Mr Prokhorov explained it by the fact that there still has not been a decision how KM-Invest, which controls 8 per cent of Norilsk Nickel, will vote. Probably, Prokhorov would now want KM-Invest to sell its 8 per cent.  And then there will be another EGM and another vote, which will probably bring another result,” says Dmitry Kolomitsyn, analyst at ATON Capital.

If he succeeds in returning to the board in another vote, he could influence the terms under which he acquires NorNickel’s electricity assets, when they’re spun off.

He will also take part in managing the company while looking for a suitable buyer for his stake.

Many commentators say he won’t be selling his share to Potanin.