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Prokhorov Sells Polyus Stake for $3.62 Billion

February 22, 2013

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, a former Russian presidential candidate, is shifting from commodities as he seeks to diversify his holdings. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Two Russian billionaires bought Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s 37.8 percent of Polyus Gold International Ltd. (PGIL) for $3.62 billion after winning approval from U.K. regulators.

The U.K. Takeover Panel approved Zelimkhan Mutsoev, a shareholder in potash producer OAO Uralkali, and Gavriil Yushvaev, a former owner of the dairy and juice maker Wimm-Bill- Dann, as buyers of the stake, Prokhorov’s Onexim Group said today in a statement. The shares jumped as much as 5 percent, the biggest intraday gain in four weeks, and traded up 2 percent at 223.50 pence by 8:34 a.m. in London.

The buyers were proposed by billionaire Suleiman Kerimov’s Nafta Moskva investment firm, which controls 40 percent of Polyus, three people with knowledge of the talks said in January, asking not to be identified as the matter was private.

“The businessmen avoided having to make a mandatory buyout to minority shareholders by acquiring the stakes separately,” Alexander Litvin, an analyst at TKB BNP Paribas Investment Partners in St. Petersburg, said by phone today. Still, he said, “we expect Polyus dividend payments may increase on this deal.”

Mutsoev’s Lizarazu Ltd. bought 18.5 percent of Polyus Gold for $1.77 billion and Yushvaev’s Receza Ltd. purchased 19.3 percent for $1.85 billion, according to Onexim’s statement.

Reducing Commodities

Prokhorov, a former Russian presidential candidate, is shifting from commodities as he seeks to diversify his holdings. He still holds a 17 percent stake in United Co. Rusal, the world’s biggest aluminum producer. Onexim may sell its Quadra Power Generation utility to an OAO Gazprom unit, Interfax said Feb. 21, citing people familiar with the matter.

“Polyus Gold has been one of Onexim Group’s major assets,” Chief Executive Officer Dmitry Razumov said today in a separate statement. Given “the balance between the company’s achievements and its potential, we made the decision that the time had come for Onexim Group to sell and realize its profit.”

Polyus Gold’s stake had a value of about $3.85 billion based on yesterday’s closing price of 219 pence in London. The gold producer rose 15 percent from Jan. 14, after the three people said Prokhorov reached an agreement with investors.

Mutsoev, Yushvaev are financing the deal with loans from state-controlled VTB Group, Russia’s second-biggest lender, three people with the knowledge of situation said last month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yuliya Fedorinova in Moscow at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at

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