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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Report: Abramovich Eyes Evraz Stake

APRoman Abramovich
Billionaire Roman Abramovich is in talks to buy a stake in the country's top steelmaker, Evraz, Vedomosti reported Monday.

Vedomosti, citing industry officials, said the negotiations had started about three months ago. They were at a preliminary stage and the price, size of the stake and deal structure had not yet been discussed, the newspaper said.

"Such talks [on buying a Evraz stake] may be under way with principal Evraz shareholders," Irina Kibina, the Evraz director in charge of corporate affairs and investor relations, said Monday.

"At the moment, the company itself has no free shares on its balance, and there are no plans to hold an additional share issue in the nearest future."

Vedomosti quoted an investment banker familiar with the position of Alexander Abramov, Evraz's core owner, as saying that the owners were unwilling to sell control over the firm to Abramovich but that they were ready to sell a blocking stake.

A blocking stake is 25 percent plus one share.

Abramovich, owner of the Chelsea football club and rated by Forbes magazine as the world's 11th-wealthiest man, with $18.2 billion, last year sold his 72 percent stake in oil company Sibneft to Gazprom for more than $13 billion.

"Such an investor may come in very handy," Vedomosti quoted the investment banker as saying.

"Abramovich has a lot of political clout and serious financial resources. Such a partnership would open up new possibilities for Evraz to consolidate metallurgical assets."

Speculation that the 38-year-old Abramovich, who spends much of his time in Britain, wanted to pull out of Russia intensified after he sold Sibneft to Gazprom.

But President Vladimir Putin, who now has powers to install governors subject to approval by regional assemblies, last year nominated Abramovich for a second term as governor of the Chukotka region, in the Far East.

"[The Evraz deal] may well be a first step toward the creation of a large metallurgical holding," Vedomosti quoted a source close to Abramovich as saying.