MOSCOW Dec 29 Mikhail Prokhorov may
increase his take in RUSAL to 19 percent if the aluminium major
issues shares to repay some of its $3 billion debt to the
Russian billionaire, Vedomosti business daily reported on
The deal would then enable a complex chain of debt
repayments and stake reshuffling between three tycoons, the
paper said, citing unnamed sources.
Prokhorov currently holds 14 percent in RUSAL, and the
company owes him money. In October, it deferred the payment of a
$700 million tranche as it could not meet the deadline on it.
Vedomosti said the tranche was then split into two, and
RUSAL missed the Dec. 1 new deadline on the first half of it. It
added that the money was part of a total $3 billion owned by the
company to Prokhorov.
RUSAL, controlled by another billionaire Oleg Deripaska, has
been forced to divest assets under margin calls, while the
financial crisis prompts it to cut output and staff.
As the company is unable to pay him, Prokhorov is open to
the idea of it issuing around 5 percent in new shares, which
would then increase his stake to 19 percent, Vedomosti reported
citing acquaintances of Prokhorov, his former business partner
Vladimir Potanin and Deripaska.
Such a deal would make Prokhorov RUSAL's second largest
shareholder after Deripaska, who will retain control, it said.
The rest of RUSAL's debt could be bought out by Potanin, who
in turn could fund the purchase by selling his 35 percent in
Polyus Gold (PLZL.MM) to tycoon Suleiman Kerimov, Vedomosti
said, adding that such a possibility had been confirmed by a
source close to the gold company.
Potanin could then take RUSAL's debt to VTB bank (VTBR.MM).
According to earlier press reports the state-controlled bank
holds around 18 percent of his Norilsk Nickel (GMKN.MM) shares
as collateral for a loan, on which margin calls have been missed.
The newspaper cited a source as saying the complex deal
would only be possible if RUSAL, its shareholders, Prokhorov,
Potanin, Kerimov and VTB all agree. The parties involved
declined to, or were unavailable for comment, it said.
(Reporting by Toni Vorobyova; Editing by Mike Nesbit)