2 Feb 2010 12:57

Interros still prepared to buy Rusal out of Norilsk Nickel

MOSCOW. Feb 2 (Interfax) - Vladimir Potanin's Interros is still prepared to buy the blocking stake in MMC Norilsk Nickel owned by Oleg Deripaska's United Company Rusal (UC Rusal) if the aluminum giant decides to sell, Interros chief Vladimir Potanin said in an interview with the Financial Times.

"If Rusal someday decides to sell their Norilsk Nickel stake, I confirm that we are interested in it, ready to talk to Mr Deripaska about it and ready to buy it. Our partners have been informed of this," Potanin told the FT.

Potanin controls around 25% of Norilsk Nickel, and Deripaska a similar stake, official reports say. Rusal spent much of 2009 renegotiating its debt to banks, and rumors to the effect agreements with the lenders could force Rusal to sell the Norilsk stake circulated on the market from time to time. Interros has said unofficially that it was prepared to buy the stake, which is currently held by Vnesheconombank (VEB) as collateral for a $4.5-billion loan to Rusal.