[MINING] RusAL lobbies West in Norilsk Nickel board row

Russian aluminium giant RusAl has written to Western institutions urging them to back its attempts to call an extraordinary general meeting at mining group Norilsk Nickel after a boardroom coup that saw the company's chief executive dismissed.

RusAl, controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, owns 25pc of Norilsk. Rival Vladimir Potanin owns a further 29pc and the two have been fighting for control since the beginning of this year.

At the annual meeting last month, Mr Potanin succeeded in installing many of his associates from his holding company Interros on to the board. He took the chair and sacked the chief executive Denis Morozov, appointing his ally, Sergey Batekhin, as chief executive. Now RusAl chief executive Alexander Bulygin has written to minority shareholders including JP Morgan, Fidelity, BlackRock and AllianceBernstein calling for them to support plans for an EGM that would boost the number of directors, and asking them to suggest independent nominees for Norilsk's board.

"We believe the new board, dominated by Interros and a new Interros-employed chief executive, is not going to function adequately and certainly not in the interests of all Norilsk shareholders," Mr Bulygin said.

He said that the Norilsk board only contained one truly independent director, with a number of supposed "independents" nominated by Interros holding close business ties to Mr Potanin.

The battle for control of Norilsk has implications for the whole of the Russian mining industry. RusAl has made no secret of its desire to take control of Norilsk, while Mr Potanin wants to create a mining giant to rival BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.

Source: Telegraph|By David Litterick

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