The Oligarchs’ Feud That Will Affect Electric Cars – by Yuliya Fedorinova (Bloomberg News – March 5, 2018)

Russian billionaires are feuding over control of a giant natural-resource business that dates back to the Soviet era. So far, so Russia.

What makes the battle for MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC more important than typical business maneuvering is that it will affect development of one of the largest deposits of nickel and cobalt, which are used in batteries for goods including iPads and Tesla cars.

1. Who is feuding?

Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska, the two billionaires battling for control of Nornickel (as the company is known), have opposing strategies for its future. Potanin, the company’s chief executive officer and the second-richest Russian, wants to expand the business and develop new deposits to maintain its position in the industry.

Deripaska, the outgoing president of aluminum maker United Co. Rusal and No. 16 among Russia’s richest, is interested in using profits to maximize dividends to shareholders. That would help him pay down debts at Rusal. Potanin owns about 30.5 percent of Nornickel, and Rusal 27.8 percent.

2. Why does this matter?

The outcome of the feud could mean the difference between a rising or falling supply of much-in-demand metals. Nornickel is the second-biggest producer of nickel worldwide and the fifth-largest producer of cobalt.

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