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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gilbertson May Quit After RusAl Merger

Brian Gilbertson, president of Viktor Vekselberg-controlled aluminum company SUAL, will leave his post when the merger with RusAl and Swiss trading company Glencore's alumina assets is completed later this month, the Financial Times reported Thursday, citing sources close to the company.

Analysts said his departure was not unexpected and would not have negative consequences for either SUAL or the merger. SUAL and RusAl declined to comment Thursday on Gilbertson's position or the progress of the merger.

In an e-mailed response to Bloomberg, Gilbertson said: "There is nothing I wish to say at this time."

On Feb. 23, Gilbertson said he might not chair the merged company, United Company RusAl, if its initial share sale were delayed. Vekselberg said in October that he expected the company to make an IPO on international markets within 18 months.

Gilbertson also said last week that he would lead a $493 million takeover bid for Consolidated Minerals of Australia, said John Meyer, director of metals and mining research at Numis Securities in London.

"He has been instrumental for the merger but his job is done and he has moved on," Meyer said.

Before joining SUAL as president in 2004 to prepare for the company's listing on the London Stock Exchange, Gilbertson served as president of South African mining firm BHP-Billiton and as chairman of the Indian metals group Vedanta Resources.

The FT also reported that Gilbertson and Vekselberg had clashed in the course of salary negotiations for the chairmanship of the merged company. Oleg Deripaska, who controls RusAl, also agreed that Gilbertson should leave after the merger, the newspaper said.

Although the pay package might have been an issue of contention, it probably was not the main one, said Timothy McCutcheon, fund manager at DBM capital.

RusAl, which will own 66 percent in the new company, will have much more influence in the running of the firm than SUAL and Glencore, which will control 22 percent and 12 percent respectively.

Consequently, it makes little sense for RusAl to accept a chairman from SUAL, "unless they had come up with some very amazing guy," McCutcheon said.

Gilbertson, for all his experience in metals and mining, is not the only suitable candidate, analysts said.

"Gilbertson is a good specialist but not somebody without whom the company will fail," said Sergei Donskoi, metals analyst with Troika Dialog.

Citing a source close to the new company, the FT reported that the chairman would be Russian and a representative of SUAL's shareholders. But McCutcheon and Meyer disagreed, saying RusAl would likely try to place its own man in the position.

United Company RusAl will continue to prepare for its London listing despite Gilbertson's departure, the FT reported.