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6 Feb, 2008 13:47

Norilsk Nickel fends off Rusal

Rusal’s co-owner Viktor Vekselberg has no doubt that the merger of the aluminum giant with Norilsk Nickel will succeed. However, the deal is far from completion.

Russia’s largest aluminum producer Rusal is well-known for its aggressive acquisition strategy and is now aiming to merge with metals giant Norilsk Nickel.

Rusal has already received permission from the federal anti-monopoly service to buy Mikhail Prokhorov's 25-per-cent stake in Norilsk. 

Key Rusal shareholder Viktor Vekselberg says it’s the first step towards creating a merged metal giant.

“The merger is very good for all participants. We’ll create a very large player and I’m sure we will succeed,” Vekselberg claimed.

But a 25-per-cent stake in Norilsk Nickel is not enough to complete a merger, and Rusal is now looking to take Vladimir Potanin's 30-per-cent stake.

However, Potanin has rejected the offer.

Experts say any confrontation between Rusal’s chief Oleg Deripaska and Vladimir Potanin is on a purely business basis. Potanin is not against the idea of the merger, but doesn’t agree with the terms on the table.

Market watchers say the Kremlin, which has an informal voice in big deals, hasn’t indicated whether it would prefer Rusal and Norilsk Nickel to merge, leaving   Deripaska and Potanin the chance to resolve the matter without political pressure.