Medvedev Holds Talks With Metals Barons

President Dmitry Medvedev met with Norilsk Nickel's owners and the country's biggest aluminum and iron-ore producers to plan support for the industry as demand and prices slump.

The talks concerned reorganization of "certain assets" and loans for metals producers, a Kremlin official who declined to be named said Wednesday. Vedomosti reported separately that the tycoons were asked to consider creating a state holding company by merging their three companies with assets of government-run Russian Technologies.

A combination of Norilsk with United Company RusAl and Metalloinvest would create a rival to BHP Billiton, the world's biggest diversified metals producer.

"The state undeniably likes the idea of a national mining champion," Mikhail Stiskin and Sergei Donskoi, analysts at Troika Dialog, said Wednesday.

The meeting took place Tuesday and was attended by Oleg Deripaska, Vladimir Potanin, Mikhail Prokhorov, Viktor Vekselberg and Alisher Usmanov, the Kremlin official said. No decision was reached, according to Vedomosti.

Norilsk's CEO and chairman, Vladimir Strzhalkovsky and Alexander Voloshin, respectively, attended the meeting, the Kremlin official said.