Interros holding could buy Prokhorov's stake in nickel giant
Russian financial holding Interros said on Tuesday it was prepared to consider buying the shares of metals giant Norilsk Nickel from billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, if his deal with RusAl is cancelled.
Prokhorov and his former business partner Vladimir Potanin, the owner of Interros, are two of the main shareholders of the world's largest nickel producer. As of late 2007, they held 28.2% and 25.3% of Norilsk Nickel's shares, respectively. Both businessmen announced plans early in 2007 to divide the assets, but eventually failed to agree on the business's division.
In late 2007, Russia's newly created aluminum giant RusAl, controlled by Oleg Deripaska, ranked Russia's richest man by Forbes, announced that it had reached an agreement with Prokhorov's Onexim Group on buying Prokhorov's blocking stake of 25% plus one share in Norilsk Nickel. The announcement came after Interros refused to buy Prokhorov's blocking interest.
UC RusAl is currently raising a $4.5 bln syndicated loan to finance the deal.
"We are prepared to consider buying the stake held by Prokhorov if he exits the deal with RusAl," said Andrei Klishas, Interros general director and chairman of the Norilsk Nickel board of directors.
At the same time, Klishas said Interros was not going to interfere in Onexim's transaction with RusAl.
Interros, the holding company for Norilsk Nickel, will determine its position on the structure of a merger deal with Metalloinvest during a month, Klishas said.
Metalloinvest, a leading Russian mining and ferrous metals company, said late in February that it was prepared to merge with Norilsk Nickel, following a proposal received by the metals giant from Dresdner Kleinwort to consolidate the world's largest nickel producer with Metalloinvest, owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov.
"Negotiations with Metalloinvest are proceeding very actively. The Board of Directors is actively hearing the advice of consultants involved in the transaction. Both companies are resolved to clinch a deal. The only question is its structure," Klishas said.