Polyus Gold delays London listing

RUSSIA’S biggest gold miner shelved its plans to list on the London Stock Exchange yesterday, saying the Russian government had delayed giving its consent to the deal.

Polyus Gold, which is headed by billionaire oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, said it had postponed its main market listing until a Russian government commission approved its plans.

“The company understands that consideration of its application for consent by the government commission…has been postponed,” it said, without indicating when the commission’s next meeting might be.

Concerns remain over the small proportion of shares Polyus intends to make public, as it plans to have only a 20 per cent free float but wants a premium listing and to join the FTSE 100.

Despite raising its free float from an originally proposed 13 per cent, Polyus still falls short of UK listing rules that require a minimum 25 per cent free float to guarantee investors can easily trade its stock.

It has applied for a waiver from the UK Listing Authority to allow it to go ahead by proving it will list enough shares to ensure the market is liquid.

Its new UK holding company also allows it to sidestep the FTSE’s rule that foreign firms must have 50 per cent free float to be included in indices such as the FTSE 100.

Critics have warned that minority investors may be unable to influence votes if so few shares were listed, but the UKLA would only be able to refuse a waiver on liquidity grounds.