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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prokhorov Ups Norilsk Stake to 25%

Itar-TassProkhorov, center, touring a Norilsk mine. Vedomosti reported that he had acquired a blocking stake in the company.
Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has accumulated more than 25 percent of Norilsk Nickel and could sell it to someone other than co-owner Vladimir Potanin, Vedomosti said Monday.

Vedomosti also ran an interview with Potanin, in which Prokhorov's former business partner said the two businessmen had become competitors.

"It's like chess. You can think two or three moves ahead, but not 20. There are too many variations," Potanin told Vedomosti.

The newspaper reported that Prokhorov had bought at least 3 percent of Norilsk stock on the market to take his stake in the miner to above 25 percent plus one share -- a blocking stake in Russian law.

The newspaper, citing analysts and sources whom it did not identify, named BHP Billiton and billionaires Roman Abramovich and Oleg Deripaska as possible buyers of Prokhorov's stake. None of the parties named would comment.

Prokhorov and Potanin, who together own a majority stake in Norilsk through their Interros banking and industrial group, are in the process of dividing their assets in mining, media, banking and other sectors.

Prokhorov and Potanin each own about 22 percent of Norilsk through the Interros stake. Although Interros funds have another 8 percent holding, this cannot be split between the two businessmen, Vedomosti reported.

Norilsk Nickel has a market capitalization of $41.7 billion, meaning a 25 percent stake would be worth more than $10 billion.

Potanin also told Vedomosti that Interros would limit its investments in power generation to $2.5 billion.

Interros owns 2 percent to 3 percent stakes in generating companies valued at $1.5 billion, Potanin said.

Norilsk Nickel plans to invest $4 billion to develop its power assets, Potanin said, Vedomosti reported.

Reuters, Bloomberg