MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russian tycoon Suleiman Kerimov is looking to cash out of gold producer Polyus Gold with the sale of his $3.7 billion stake in the latest of a series of divestments of large assets in Russian companies, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Wednesday.
Preparations for the sale began last autumn, but Kerimov has still not managed to find a buyer, Vedomosti said, citing unnamed friends of Kerimov, bankers and people close to the management of Polyus Gold.
A spokesman from Nafta Moskva, Kerimov’s holding company, denied the Vedomosti allegations on Wednesday. Kerimov is not looking for a buyer for his share of Polyus Gold and remains a strategic investor in the company, Anton Averin said, the Prime business news agency reported.
A secretive billionaire from Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Dagestan who made his fortune leveraging holdings in big-name Russian companies, Kerimov steadily rid himself of large equity holdings in 2013.
Over the course of last year, Kerimov sold 21.75 percent of fertilizer giant Uralkali for about $5.4 billion, 1 percent of diamond miner Alrosa for about $40 million, and 36 percent of Russian real estate developer PIK Group for about $500 million. Kerimov has also cut his lavish sponsorship of Russian football club Anzhi.
It is not clear what Kerimov, who Forbes magazine estimates to be worth about $7.1 billion, plans to do with the cash he has amassed from these sales.
Market conditions and the likely opposition of the Kremlin to a foreign investor taking a large stake in Polyus Gold means that Kerimov may have difficulty selling out of the gold miner, Vedomosti said.