London court backs Deripaska in battle of Russian tycoons – by Barbara Lewis and Polina Devitt (Reuters U.S. – June 27, 2018)

LONDON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska got a boost on Wednesday in a long-running battle for control of Norilsk Nickel when a high court judge ruled fellow investor Roman Abramovich did not have the right to sell shares in the miner to a third businessman.

Deripaska, who controls aluminum giant Rusal (0486.HK), wants to stop Abramovich from selling Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel) (GMKN.MM) shares to Russian businessman Vladimir Potanin, saying that would violate a 2012 shareholder agreement.

At London’s High Court, Judge Stephen Phillips ruled such a sale by Abramovich, the owner of England’s Chelsea soccer club, breached the terms of that shareholder pact.

He found Abramovich’s company Crispian “was and is precluded under the framework agreement from disposing of shares”. The judge added the court was adjourned pending applications, including for permission to appeal.

Potanin said in March he purchased a 2 percent stake in Nornickel from Abramovich for about $800 million. The deal increased Potanin’s holding in the miner to 32.9 percent, but the court said previously the sale could be reversed if the London court ruled in favor of Rusal.

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