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    RusAl rebuffs Norilsk Nickel sale offer and says stake undervalued

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    The world's largest aluminum maker, RusAl, has rebuffed an offer by rival shareolder Vladimir Potanin to sell its stake in Norilsk Nickel, and says it has no plans to sell its stake in the world's top nickel producer, RusAl said on Monday.

    The world's largest aluminum maker, RusAl, has rebuffed an offer by rival shareolder Vladimir Potanin to sell its stake in Norilsk Nickel, and says it has no plans to sell its stake in the world's top nickel producer, RusAl said on Monday.

    RusAl claims Norilsk Nickel's other core shareholder, Interros, has mismanaged the firm leading to its undervaluation by the market, RusAl said.

    RusAl's controlling shareholder, billionaire Oleg Deripaska, and Interros owner Vladimir Potanin have been locked in a boardroom battle since June, when RusAl lost one seat on Norilsk's board following an annual general meeting, where Interros increased its representation.

    RusAl has accused Interros of ruining the parity and the board of directors of a vote fraud. It initiated an emergency shareholders' meeting to contest AGM results and last Thursday shareholders voted against board re-election.

    Last Friday, Interros, which holds a quarter of Norilsk's shares, sent a letter to RusAl with a proposal to buy its 25 percent stake in Norilsk for $9 billion.

    "RusAl considers that Norilsk Nickel is currently greatly undervalued. RusAl acquired its 25 percent stake in MMC Norilsk Nickel when the market capitalization of the company was estimated at $58 billion. Over the past two years, under the guidance of the management appointed by Interros, the company's capitalization fell almost by half. With effective corporate governance, which Norilsk Nickel now lacks, and taking into account the current metal prices, the value of Norilsk Nickel should have returned to pre-crisis level by now, i.e. exceeded $60 billion," RusAl said in a statement.

    RusAl confirmed that its investment in Norilsk Nickel was strategic and the company had no intention of selling its shares.

    "Any proposal for Norilsk Nickel to participate in a pool of investors should be considered by the board of directors. This has not happened. Taking into account statements previously made by the Norilsk Nickel CEO that MMC was ready to participate in the buyout of RusAl's shares using Norilsk Nickel's balance sheet, RusAl expresses its concern that the Norilsk Nickel's management is planning to again use the company's finances in the interests of a single shareholder," the statement said.

    "According to Russian law, anyone whose stake exceeds 30 percent must make a mandatory buyout offer to all minority shareholders. This shows the proposal of Interros is not serious."

    Kommersant business daily said that Potanin and Deripaska would meet on Monday to discuss the purchase offer.

     

    MOSCOW, October 25 (RIA Novosti)

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