Alrosa Says It Could Bid Up To $50 Per Share for Polyus

ST. PETERSBURG -- Diamond miner Alrosa will consider bidding for control of Polyus Gold at a price of $40 to $50 a share, the company's chief executive said Saturday.

Sergei Vybornov said he would only consider such a bid after the resolution of an ownership tussle at Polyus between billionaire shareholders Vladimir Potanin and Mikhail Prokhorov.

"We want to wait for the end of the conflict between the shareholders and then look again. It is an interesting asset," Vybornov said during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

"We do not want to participate in any way in the conflict [between the Polyus shareholders]. I am sure they will agree among themselves and then we will hold talks about a possible purchase of a stake, including as a possible variant of a controlling stake," he said.

Polyus is the last battleground in the protracted asset split between partners-turned-rivals Potanin and Prokhorov, who announced last year that they were splitting their varied industrial and financial assets, worth billions of dollars.

Vybornov said a fair price for Polyus would be $40 to $50 per share. The company's London-traded stock closed at $63.6 in London on Friday, having risen nearly one-third since the beginning of the year.

"I think the asset is very highly overpriced at the moment. I think a normal price range is $40 to $50," Vybornov said.

Polyus said in a statement Thursday that Alrosa had offered to buy treasury shares equivalent to a 6.54 percent in the company at a "fair price." But Vybornov said Alrosa had made no offer.