Russian billionaires risk ‘shootout’ in battle over nickel giant – by Polina Devitt (Reuters U.S. – February 26, 2018)

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Two of Russia’s richest men could trigger a complicated auction known as a “shootout”, in a bid to end their long-running battle for control of mining giant Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel).

After a five-year peace deal ended in December, the power struggle between two major Nornickel shareholders, Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska’s aluminum giant Rusal, resurfaced earlier this month.

Potanin offered to buy a stake owned by a third businessman, Roman Abramovich. Abramovich has a history of good relations with President Vladimir Putin. Sources say he was installed as a minority shareholder in 2012 by the Kremlin as part of the deal to keep the peace. The Kremlin has always denied this.

Deripaska tried to block Potanin from buying Abramovich’s stake as it would have given his rival, who is already Nornickel’s chief executive and largest shareholder, even more control of the company.

On Friday, the battle took a new turn when Rusal said it would ask shareholders for permission for a mandate to authorize the board to take part in a potential shootout. The terms of the shootout, a price auction between the two parties, were agreed as part of the 2012 deal and could be used as of December.

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