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7 Aug, 2008 08:38

Rusal looks for clarification of Prokhorov Potanin deal on Norilsk

Rusal looks for clarification of Prokhorov Potanin deal on Norilsk

Rusal, the 25% plus 2 share stakeholder in Norilsk Nickel, says its looking for clarification for of the deal announced on Tuesday, between Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim and Vladimir Potanin’s Interros, concerning a 16.6% stake in Norilsk, and may call on th

In a statement released on Thursday afternoon Rusal stated,

“UC RUSAL believes that Interros and Vladimir Potanin must clarify the situation and requests the involvement of the Federal Financial Markets Service,”

The statement appears to be placing pressure on Potanin’s Onexim Group to make an offer to buy out smaller shareholders, noting that Potanin has a significant stake already, and may in fact already control Norilsk.

“According to the released information, Vladimir Potanin's Interros plans to buy a 16.66% stake in Norilsk Nickel from ONEXIM Group. When this deal is completed, Vladimir Potanin's Interros could get control over a stake exceeding 30% and, according to Russian  Federation legislation, will be obliged to make an offer and purchase the shares ofthe other shareholders of Norilsk Nickel,”

“Moreover, there are a number of factors, including the results of the voting at the   Annual   General  Meeting  of  Norilsk  Nickel's shareholders,  that  indicate  that Interros already controls a stake in Norilsk  Nickel  exceeding 30% and yet has not made a mandatory offer to minority  shareholders  to buy out their shares. This is a breach of Russian legislation and minority shareholders' rights. We believe it is necessary that  the  Federal Financial Markets Service holds a detailed inspection of the shareholding  structure of Norilsk Nickel to investigate  the  above-mentioned  violations  of the legislation and to protect the rights of minority shareholders,”

The statement comes amidst mounting questions concerning the deal announced on Tuesday.  Polyus Gold said on Wednesday that had received no information on the deal under which a 32.5% stake in it, Russia’s largest Gold producer, would be used as part payment by Potanin as purchase for a 16.6% stake in Norilsk.

Analysts are also questioning from where Prokhorov could have acquired the 16.6% stake he proposes to sell, given that he has sold the 25% stake to Rusal in December 2007 and sold a further 4% stake to Potanin in May.