22 Jun 2010 19:15

Interros pleased with performance of Norilsk Nickel management

MOSCOW. June 22 (Interfax) - Vladimir Potanin's Interros, which holds a blocking stake in MMC Norilsk Nickel , is pleased with the performance of the Norilsk's management.

"Norilsk Nickel has come through the crisis period very confidently. The company posted a net profit of over $2.5 billion in 2009, and this year the financial indicators look very solid. The company's debt burden is already pretty low and it plans to reduce it further. In a word, there are no doubts concerning Norilsk's financial health," Potanin said in an interview with Rossiya 24 television.

Potanin is also pleased with the performance of Norilsk's management.

"We don't plan any changes. In that sense that we have no criticisms of management. We believe that it is pursuing the correct line aimed at cutting costs and maintaining a stable financial situation," Potanin said.

He also noted the cooperation with United Company RUSAL (UC RUSAL) owner Oleg Deripaska, who also owns a blocking stake in Norilsk Nickel. "We have an agreement with RUSAL that has been in effect for roughly 18 months. We make decisions jointly - at least, we try to do that - concerning issues of company strategy, dividend payments. We try to maintain a rational policy," Potanin said.

RUSAL purchased the stake in Norilsk from Mikhail Prokhorov in the spring in 2008, and was in conflict with Interros for a number of months. Later that year Potanin and Deripaska agreed a settlement that featured a three-year moratorium on entry of the beneficiaries onto the Norilsk Nickel board of directors. Today neither Potanin, not Deripaska, nor other RUSAL shareholders - Viktor Vekselberg and Prokhorov - have seats on the board.

But Deripaska plans to take a seat on the board that is elected at the AGM on June 28, although he will not seek to become chairman. He has said that Norilsk is an important asset for RUSAL and the company plans to closely monitor Norilsk operations.

The dividends Norilsk will pay is the main topic of discussion for shareholders. RUSAL would use the dividends to repay debt. Norilsk posted a net profit of $2.651 billion in 2009 under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and plans to pay about $1.3 billion in dividends for 2009. It was reported earlier that RUSAL believes Norilsk could pay out even more in dividends without jeopardizing its financial situation.