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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kudrin Calls Polyus Deal Talk Premature

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, who is also chairman of diamond monopoly Alrosa, said Thursday that Alrosa was interested in buying gold sector assets, but talk of a deal involving miner Polyus was premature.

Sources close to the matter said Wednesday that a consortium led by Alrosa was close to buying 25 percent of Polyus, the country's leading gold miner, from businessman Mikhail Prokhorov, the country's fourth-richest man.

"Alrosa is interested in various assets in the extraction industry, not only diamonds," Kudrin told reporters when asked about the chance of a Polyus deal.

"It is premature to speak of an agreement over Polyus. We are looking at the possibility of taking part in gold assets."

Alrosa, the world's second largest diamond producer after De Beers, is jointly owned by the Kremlin and the local government in the republic of Sakha. It mined 50 million tons of ore in 2006 and recently discovered new diamond deposits worth $3.5 billion.

"We would like to diversify our assets in order to lessen our dependency on one sector and world diamond price movements, and increase the company's financial soundness," Kudrin said.

Kudrin said Alrosa was also interested in a range of other assets, mainly in the oil and gas sector as well as coal-mining.

He said Alrosa would take part in a tender for a stake in coal miner Elgaugol, which controls the Elginskoye coal deposit in the republic of Sakha.

"Alrosa has the best logistics network in [Sakha]. Therefore, participation in projects where Alrosa would have lower costs than other firms is profitable for us," Kudrin said.

Polyus produces nearly one-quarter of the country's gold.