Top Rusal shareholder backs Norilsk deal

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A top shareholder in UC Rusal on Wednesday urged the aluminum giant's chief Oleg Deripaska to accept a sweetened new offer for the company's stake in the nickel miner Norilsk Nickel.

The world's largest nickel producer last week offered Deripaska $12.8 billion (9.4 billion euros) for 20 percent of his shares in the company.

The deal would have left Rusal holding a five-percent stake in Norilsk and ended a bitter battle for control of the Arctic giant's dividends payments and expansion strategy.

Deripaska had previously demanded $16 billion dollars for his part of the nickel producer. He told CNBC television on Tuesday that he had no intention of giving up his stake.

"There are only three companies in the world who have the real experience to mine above the polar circle. And Norilsk is one of them," said Deripaska.

But Mikhail Prokhorov -- who has a 17-percent shareholding in Rusal -- urged his partner to accept Norlisk's offer and thus help erase the aluminum company's debts.

"I think that it is to Rusal's advantage to accept this offer," Interfax quoted Prokhorov as saying.

"These shares' sale will help to considerably reduce Rusal's debt burden and increase the company shares' value."

Prokhorov added that his Onexim Group investment vehicle through which he owns his Rusal shares "intends to support this offer."

The world's second-largest aluminum company in December put its debt at $11.7 billion dollars.

© 2011 AFP

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