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26 Dec, 2008 17:00

Voloshin to Chair Norilsk Nickel Board

Aleksandr Voloshin, will chair Norilsk Nickel’s board after shareholders approved his candidacy at a meeting on Friday. He was elected after rival nominee Sergey Chemezov withdrew his nomination.

The new board of directors was a compromise between Norisk Nickel’s two majority shareholders – Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska.

Of most interest was the position of Board Chairman with two State officials nominating for the post. Just hours before the vote one of the nominees – Sergey Chemezov – pulled out, leaving CEO, Vladimir Strzhalkovsky to announce the other elected unopposed.

“The new Board of Directors have chosen unanimously Aleksandr Voloshin as the company’s chairman.”

Voloshin, the former chief of staff for Russian President’s Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, has previously chaired former electricity monopoly, RAO UES as well as sitting on the board of several Russian energy companies.

The new chairman said he is not a representative of the state but will guard the government's interest and help the company in a time of crisis.

“The government has a lot of instruments to help companies like Norilsk Nickel. And I think the state becoming a shareholder is one of them.”

Currently the government holds up to 45% in Norilsk Nickel – as a credit guarantee through state-owned VEB bank. And Maksim Khudalov, Analyst at Metropol Investment says the government will stay on NorNickel’s shareholder list long-term.

“The government would take a from 30-45% stake in the company and would try to create some kind of metals Gazprom on the basis of Norilsk Nickel, Rusal and other Russian non-ferrous companies that currently are independent.”

For now the new chairman is expected to provide massive government support including guaranteed funding, preferential access to raw materials and large state orders.