* Goldman Sachs offers NLMK stake to investors
* Sources say Lisin might want to buy TransContainer
* If so, might have to compete with Russia’s Summa group (Updates after Goldman offers NLMK shares)
By Svetlana Burmistrova, Olga Popova and Gleb Stolyarov
MOSCOW, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Russian billionaire Vladimir Lisin is selling a stake of around 1.5 percent in the country’s largest steelmaker NLMK, which he controls, the bookrunner for the deal said on Thursday.
U.S. bank Goldman Sachs said it was offering the stake in NLMK to investors after acquiring it from Cyprus-based Fletcher Group Holdings, a company connected to Lisin.
After the deal, Fletcher will control 84 percent of NLMK, Goldman said in a statement, adding that Fletcher had agreed not to dispose of further shares in NLMK for at least 90 days.
Forbes magazine ranks Lisin as Russia’s eighth richest businessman with a worth of about $9.3 billion.
Earlier on Thursday, three banking and industry sources told Reuters that Lisin could sell some of NLMK’s existing shares via a secondary offering (SPO).
Two of the sources said the deal could be to finance a possible purchase of container company TransContainer.
Lisin’s stake sale comes as NLMK and other Russian steelmakers have benefited from a recovery in global steel prices. NLMK reported stronger than expected third-quarter results and its shares have risen sharply since October.
NLMK’s corporate finance director told a bond conference on Thursday that it was considering issuing Eurobonds in 2017.
Lisin’s representative Diana Vasilevich declined to comment and referred questions to NLMK or UCL Holding, which controls Lisin’s logistics assets. They both also declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
State-controlled monopoly Russian Railways said this week it had received several bids for its TransContainer division, including a bid from Lisin’s Freight One, but said it had no plans to sell.
Russian Railways, which controls 63 percent of TransContainer, said it would sell the stake if someone offered a lot of money for the stake. TransContainer has a total market value of $801 million.
“Lisin wants TransContainer because he has ports, including a container terminal in St Petersburg, and experience in managing Russia’s largest rail freight transporter,” a railway industry source told Reuters.
Lisin’s Freight One has a fleet of over 170,000 railcars transporting commodities such as oil, coal and other goods.
Lisin might have to compete with another Russian group Summa, which already owns 24 percent of TransContainer through a firm called Fesco, which it controls.
Summa’s representative confirmed the group’s interest in buying a controlling stake in TransContainer by telephone to Reuters on Thursday.
Another reason for the share offering might be that NLMK wants to increase the free float of its shares, one financial industry source said. Rival MMK is considering raising its free float to gain entry to the MSCI index.
As the steel market has picked up, NLMK’s market capitalisation has risen 94 percent this year to $11.3 billion.
NLMK’s rivals are also looking to raise money. TMK , Russia’s largest maker of steel pipes for the oil and gas industry, is talking to banks about a possible secondary share offering. Evraz is considering a convertible bond issue, according to sources. (Reporting by Svetlana Burmistrova, Olga Popova and Gleb Stolyarov; writing by Katya Golubkova, Polina Devitt and Alexander Winning; editing by Christian Lowe and Jane Merriman and Susan Fenton)