Deripaska's Miner Will Postpone IPO

The global financial crisis dealt Oleg Deripaska another blow Friday, when his mining company, Strikeforce Mining and Resources, postponed a Hong Kong share float because of the market downturn.

SMR, which accounts for 4 percent of the world supply of steel-hardening alloy ferro-molybdenum, will delay the proposed IPO until markets recover or stabilize, the company's chief executive, Geoffrey Cowley, said Friday.

"In the current conditions of the global financial crisis, it is not rational and economically justified to sell a share in such a promising company as SMR," Cowley said in a statement.

Deripaska, Russia's richest man on paper, has been forced to sell his stakes in auto parts maker Magna and German builder Hochtief after facing margin calls from banks when the value of his shares used as collateral plummeted.

Russian stocks, down more than 70 percent since peaking in May, have fared worse than other emerging markets recently. Investor flight, exacerbated by the war in Georgia, has wiped billions of dollars from company valuations and eaten into the fortunes of its business elite.

Deripaska has also deferred a $700 million tranche of his debt to fellow billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, accrued to purchase a blocking stake in Norilsk Nickel.

SMR, which stands for SoyuzMetallResurs in Russian, is a relatively small part of his business. The company had planned to float at least 25 percent of its shares in Hong Kong in a listing that one source in June said could raise about $200 million.

Hong Kong has been courting listings by foreign companies, although some bankers have expressed doubts about investor appetite for companies without a strong connection to China. Most Russian overseas listings have taken place in London.

The source familiar with the matter said in June that SMR had tapped BOC International and Morgan Stanley to underwrite its offering.

The company, which is also exploring for gold and other minerals in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan, was in compliance with listing requirements and ready in principle to float shares, Cowley said.

He said several companies within Deripaska's Basic Element holding, which posted revenues of $26.8 billion last year, had set the objective of being ready for an IPO by 2010.

"SMR is IPO-ready now," he said. "Unfortunately, it does not make a lot of sense to discuss a potential listing in the nearest future.

"We could discuss the terms for listing only when we have clarity on the consequences of the financial crisis and understand how long it would take for the markets to recover and stabilize."

SMR owns the Sorsk ferro-molybdenum plant in the republic of Khakassia and the Zhireken plant in the Zabaikalsky region.

Basic Element's resources division, which includes a timber business as well as SMR, contributed $630 million in revenues last year, or about 2.4 percent of the company's total revenues.