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9 Jul, 2008 07:59

Rusal hits out at Norilsk Nickel board

Aluminium giant Rusal has hit out at the result of Norilsk Nickel's shareholders meeting, where Vladimir Potanin was elected board chairman. The appointment gives Potanin more power to resist Rusal's takeover ambitions, but the aluminium firm, which owns

It is these two top managers of Norilsk Nickel that aluminium giant Rusal is so unhappy with. One, Vladimir Potanin – the new board’s chairman, the other, new CEO Sergey Batekhin – formerly deputy head of Potanin’s Interros holding.

Rusal says the company’s board is now under the control of Interros and does NOT represent the interests of ALL shareholders.  Rusal bought a 25 percent stake in Norilsk in April this year and is planning to take measures. Vera Kurochkina, RUSAL spokesperson stated to RT.

We want to call an extraordinary general meeting to enlarge Norilsk’s board to 13 from 9 and secure genuinely independent directors.

The new appointments gave Potanin more control over the company and an advantage in negotiations over Norilsk Nickel’s possible merger with either Rusal, or steel  maker Metallinvest, or both. After the recent board changes, Potanin seems to presenting a more conciliatory stance to his opponents.

Rusal representatives voted against me and the candidacy of Mr Batekhin but I think we are now on the verge of a new  positive development in our negotiations with Rusal.

Norilsk Nickel’s share price dropped three percent on news of the board appointments, but analysts predict certainty in the company’s management will have a positive impact on  the share price in long-term. Tim McCucheon of DBM Capital Partners noted.

The markets dislike uncertainty more than anything else; a certain amount of certainty has now come back to Norilsk Nickel in terms of who’s going to be running the show and that’s certainly good for the markets. So we should definitely see that reflected in Norilsk Nickel’s share price in the coming months.

Although analysts now anticipate Potanin will take further steps in the consolidation of Norilsk nickel with either Rusal or Metalloinvest they don’t expect final decisions anytime soon.