Russian aluminum giant RusAl, owner of a 25 percent stake in Russia's largest nickel maker Norilsk Nickel, is in talks with investors to set up a pool to buy the 25 percent stake of another core Norilsk shareholder, Interros investment firm, a source close to RusAl told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
"One of most likely scenarios to solve the Norilsk Nickel problem can be a sale of Interros' stake. This is why RusAl is holding consultations with a number of investors interested in buying Interros' stake to create a pool ready to buy Interros' share," the source said.
The source did not disclose any details of the talks.
RIA Novosti has no comment from Interros, but in October the company sent a proposal to RusAl to buy RusAl's stake in Norilsk for $9 billion.
In its answer to the proposal, RusAl said it considered that Norilsk Nickel was currently considerably undervalued. RusAl acquired its 25 percent stake in Norilsk Nickel when the market capitalization of the company was estimated at $58 billion.
In the past two years, Norilsk Nickel's capitalization has fallen by half. Considering current metal prices on global markets, the value of Norilsk Nickel was expected to return to the pre-crisis level and exceed $60 billion, RusAl argued.
RusAl also said it considered its Norilsk stake as a strategic investment target and the company was not going to sell it.
RusAl, controlled by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, and Interros, billionaire Vladimir Potanin's investment arm, have been embroiled in a shareholder row after RusAl lost one seat on Norilsk's board at a June annual general meeting, while Interros increased its representation. RusAl has accused Interros of ruining agreed board parity and the board of directors of vote fraud.
Prior to an EGM in October, Interros called on Norilsk minority shareholders to vote against the termination of the authority of the company's board.
Interros said that RusAl's campaign to contest the AGM results, which it claims was groundless and aimed to serve RusAl's interests only, was directed against Norilsk's shareholders, management and independent directors.
MOSCOW, November 10 (RIA Novosti)