Pressure increases for Rusal to offload Norilsk

A REPORT that Russia’s Sual partners may sell its 15.8 per cent stake in Rusal adds to pressure on the aluminium giant to divest its minority holding in Norilsk Nickel, analysts said yesterday.

Viktor Vekselberg, one of Sual’s core shareholders, has said Rusal should accept a $12.8bn offer to buy 20 per cent of Norilsk Nickel, with Moscow’s Vedomosti reporting that Sual now wants to sell its stake in Rusal.

“This puts some pressure on Deripaska to agree to sell the Norilsk Nickel stake,” ING analyst Maxim Matveev said.

Norilsk, the world’s largest nickel and palladium producer, is at the centre of a power struggle between Russian tycoons Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska.

Deripaska holds 25 per cent of Norilsk via UC Rusal and in December turned down an offer from Norilsk to buy out the stake. Norilsk last month raised its offer price to buy back a smaller, 20 per cent stake.