RusAl Wants 2 Independent Directors Elected at Norilsk

United Company RusAl urged Norilsk Nickel shareholders on Friday to elect two independent directors in a high-stakes June 30 vote for control of the board at the world's largest nickel miner.

Several billionaires are vying for position on a new board at Norilsk to have a greater say in the future of the $52 billion company at the heart of rival proposals to create a Kremlin-approved mining colossus.

RusAl chief executive Alexander Bulygin said his company, a one-quarter shareholder in Norilsk since April, planned to pursue a full merger. He said Norilsk shareholders should pool their votes for two independent directors to minimize the chance that billionaire Vladimir Potanin ends up with control of the board.

"A balanced board composition should include four representatives of Interros, three representatives of RusAl and two independent directors," Bulygin told reporters on Friday.

The statement altered RusAl's previous assertion that Norilsk's nine-man board should be split equally three ways between its own representatives, those of Interros and independents.

Explaining this, Bulygin said he feared that minorities might disperse their votes, resulting in only one independent being elected and Interros gaining an extra seat on the board.

He said he believed that minority shareholders owned less than 40 percent of Norilsk, but did not know the exact distribution.

Thirteen candidates are standing for election: five independents, four from Interros, three from RusAl plus Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire who sold his Norilsk stake to RusAl after a high-profile split with former partner Potanin.

Bulygin said RusAl supported a proposal by Norilsk's management to raise the number of board members to 13, which would allow the election of at least three independents.