Russian billionaires ended a four-year battle over the world's biggest nickel and palladium miner yesterday by giving the largest voting stake in their $30bn (£18bn) company to Kremlin-favoured tycoon Roman Abramovich.
Norilsk Nickel, which mines mineral deposits in Russia, was one of the biggest prizes handed to insiders in the post-Soviet carve-up of Russian industry that created a generation of oligarchs.
Vladimir Putin, who returned to the presidency in May, has said he wanted an end to a feud between two of Russia’s richest men – Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska – over board control and payments to shareholders in the firm. Potanin and Deripaska agreed that Abramovich would buy a 7.3 per cent stake, in treasury stock, at market price. The stake is now worth around $2bn. The three parties will each contribute equal stakes – 22 per cent of Norilsk, to an escrow account that will be voted by Abramovich's firm Millhouse – giving him the largest say over how the company is run.