26 Feb 2010 11:20

Norilsk could pay out $1 bln in dividends for 2009

MOSCOW. Feb 26 (Interfax) - OJSC MMC Norilsk Nickel could pay around $1 billion in dividends for its 2009 results after a two-year break, the Russian business daily Vedomosti reported citing sources close to the shareholders in the company, UC RusAl and Interros.

According to Vedomosti, the main shareholders believe that Norilsk is already able to pay dividends and are currently discussing the payout's size.

The company's general director, Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, said that Norilsk's consolidated net profit for 2009 will come to around $2 billion. Therefore, around half this amount could go to the dividend payment.

However, Vedomosti reported that the final figure for the company's net profit still has not been determined since Norilsk's board of directors still has not discussed this issue. This figure will be tallied by the end of March when the board plans to set the parameters of the company's budget for 2010.

Another source said that by this time it would be clear whether the company would pay off a portion of its debt or refinance it. Norilsk's debt comes to around $6 billion, Strzhalkovsky said, adding that, in 2010, as last year, the company should pay off $3 billion. Norilsk is also looking at refinancing its debt as an option.

The dividend payout could be useful for the shareholders in Norilsk, who themselves are saddled with debt. For example, Rusal' s debt currently comes to $12.9 billion.