Roman Abramovich buys Norilsk Nickel stake for $1.49 bn to end battle between two oligarchs

Russia's Rusal Plc, the world's largest nickel and palladium miner and the largest aluminium producer,  today said that the company 's CEO, Oleg Deripaska, along with Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin, would sell a 5.87 per cent stake in Norilsk Nickel to Roman Abramovich, the tycoon who owns London's Chelsea football club, for $1.49 billion.

The deal will hopefully see an end to a four-year battle between two fellow oligarchs over the world's largest nickel and palladium miner, although the sale is a smaller stake than what was agreed last week, where Potanin and Norilsk had agreed to sell a 7.3 per cent stake in the form of quasi-treasury shares to Abramovich.

In a statement filed at the Hong Kong stock exchange, Moscow-based Rusal said that it and Potanin would sell 9.29 million shares in Norilsk to Abramovich's investment company Millhouse at $160 per share, a 11 per cent discount to Norilsk's closing price of 5,380 roubles ($180) on Monday.

Post sale, Rusal will hold a 27.8 per cent stake in Norilsk, while Interros, an investment vehicle of Vladimir Potanin, will hold 30.3 per cent and Abramovich 5.87 per cent. All Norilsk's treasury shares – totaling to almost 17 per cent of its issued capital, would be cancelled.

Last week, Rusal led by Deripaska and Interros had said in a joint statement that they have resolved their four-year battle over its cash flows by agreeing bring in Abramovich as a partner and give him the biggest voting stake of 7 per cent in Norilsk.

Rusal,  Potanin and Abramovich will put a combined 20 per cent holding in Norilsk in an escrow account, which will give only Abramovich voting power in order to minimise shareholder disputes.