Potanin Elected Norilsk Nickel Chief to End Shareholder Feud

MOSCOW, December 17 (RIA Novosti) – Norilsk Nickel’s board has elected billionaire Vladimir Potanin as its new CEO in a deal expected to put an end to a long-standing feud between the company’s core shareholders, a source familiar with the outcome of the board meeting said on Monday.

Norilsk Nickel’s board of directors also prematurely terminated the powers of its current General Director Vladimir Strzhalkovsky. Previous media reports said Strazhlkovsky will resign with a $100 million golden parachute envisaging a $50 million lump sum payment and two $25 million compensation payments during the year.

Norilsk Nickel’s core shareholders RusAl, owned by Oleg Deripaska, and Interros holding company, controlled by Potanin, signed a peace deal on December 10 to settle their long-standing dispute over the company’s corporate management and strategy.

The deal was signed with the participation of Russian billionaire and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich whose Millhouse Capital investment vehicle will buy a stake in Norilsk Nickel to help the oligarchs end their feud, restore the balance of influence in the company, help unify efforts to improve corporate governance and boost the company’s market capitalization.

Strzhalkovsky’s replacement was a key condition of the deal.

The agreement also sets out measures to safeguard stable dividend payments for the period 2012-2014.

RusAl, with its 25 percent stake and Interros, which holds 28 percent, have been embroiled in a shareholder row over control of the company since June 2010, when RusAl lost one seat on Norilsk’s board, while Interros increased its control over the firm.

RusAl accused Interros of breaking the parity agreed, and went so far as to accuse the board of directors of vote fraud. Both Deripaska and Potanin have been battling it out in court since then, fighting for control over Norilsk, which has a market value of about $30 billion.

Interros has also repeatedly tried to resolve the conflict by offering to buy RusAl’s stake in Norilsk Nickel. RusAl has rejected at least three such offers since late 2010.


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