RusAl Nixes Norilsk Bid For Merger

United Company RusAl on Tuesday rejected a proposal by Norilsk Nickel to discuss a full merger as the two metals giants geared up for a showdown over the election of a Norilsk board.

RusAl, which in April became a one-quarter shareholder in Norilsk, is lobbying for equal representation with Vladimir Potanin and independent shareholders on the nine-man board at Norilsk. Norilsk's management wants a 13-man board. "We are seeking to increase the number of board members to 13 from the current nine, as we believe this will lead to an increase in the number of independent directors," Norilsk CEO Denis Morozov said Tuesday.

Morozov said Norilsk's management had requested talks with RusAl about a merger after the aluminum firm made public statements of its intent eventually to unite with Norilsk after buying a stake of 25 percent plus two shares in April. "Today we received a reply from RusAl saying they do not want to discuss this with the company's management but that they want this issue sorted out with the new board after its election," Morozov said.

RusAl issued a statement saying it did not believe that the discussions of its plans with Norilsk's management would lead to a satisfactory conclusion.