Bloomberg News

Rusal Says Norilsk Chairman Should Be Independent Director

June 23, 2011

United Co. Rusal (486), the largest maker of aluminum, said the chairman of OAO Norilsk Nickel should be independent rather than representing a particular shareholder.

“The board should be dominated by independent directors,” Oleg Mukhamedshin, Rusal’s head of capital markets, said in Hong Kong today. “We are considering the situation and are going to have some consultations with other shareholders.”

The nickel producer’s directors elected Andrei Bugrov as chairman on June 21, tilting the board away from Rusal’s billionaire Chief Executive Officer Oleg Deripaska and toward rival Norilsk shareholder Vladimir Potanin in a fight to control Russia’s biggest mining company that dates back to 2008.

Bugrov, on the board of Potanin’s Interros Holding Co., takes over as chairman of Norilsk from independent director Alexander Voloshin. Rusal holds 25 percent of Norilsk, while Interros owns 30 percent.

“Potanin controls the board,” said Dmitry Smolin, an analyst at Uralsib Capital. “To re-elect the chairman, Rusal needs his agreement, making re-election almost impossible.”

Anton Muravyev, an Interros spokesman, declined to comment beyond a statement on the day of the election that said Bugrov would focus on corporate strategy rather than the conflict.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jasmine Wang in Hong Kong at jwang513@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rebecca Keenan at rkeenan5@bloomberg.net


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