Norilsk Nickel has “obvious problems” with the implementation of the control function, UC Rusal said in a press release on the website. The company writes that it has consistently advocated strengthening all management functions at Norilsk Nickel, including planning, organization, motivation and control. Recent accidents at the company's facilities only confirmed the correctness of UC Rusal, the report says. “As for the centralized or decentralized management model, none of them in any way excludes the control function. And with this in "Norilsk Nickel", as the last two months have shown, there are obvious problems, "- said UC Rusal.
The release also states that Norilsk Nickel should not view the payment of dividends to shareholders as a burden. “But incompetence, ineffective decisions of individual managers or lack of decisions as such are the main risk for any company,” UC Rusal emphasized. He added that he had invested $ 14 billion in Norilsk Nickel shares. “We believe that dividends should not be reduced, but left in Russia and directed to the development of the Russian economy, as, for example, RUSAL is doing,” the company concluded.
The press release of UC Rusal was a response to the statement of the president of Norilsk Nickel and the owner of the largest shareholder of the company, Vladimir Potanin (UC Rusal owns the second largest share). Potanin in a conversation with Reuters noted that the shareholder agreement between the main owners of Norilsk Nickel has become a "rudiment" that the company no longer needs for development. Moreover, Potanin believes that the agreement may lead to "even greater pressure on Norilsk Nickel in order to receive maximum dividends, regardless of the economic and social situation around the company." Potanin's company Interros differs from UC Rusal in its views on the management of Norilsk Nickel: UC Rusal is in favor of tightening control systems, and Interros believes that this contradicts "the principles of normal corporate governance, implying, for example, reasonable decentralization," Potanin added ...
The conflict between Norilsk Nickel shareholders has been going on for more than ten years. Potanin insisted that most of the profits should be directed to the development of the company, and the co-owner of UC Rusal, Oleg Deripaska, was counting on maximum payments due to the debts of his enterprises. In 2012, Potanin's Interros, UC Rusal, then controlled by Deripaska, and Roman Abramovich entered into a shareholder agreement to end the conflict. The agreement expires on January 1, 2023.
The shareholder conflict escalated again this spring. Potanin in early April suggested that Norilsk Nickel shareholders postpone the payment of dividends so as not to “irritate people” during the difficult economic situation due to coronavirus and quarantine. UC Rusal did not support the idea. In June, Potanin again suggested that Norilsk Nickel's largest shareholders not pay dividends after a major accident in Norilsk, when a fire broke out and 21,000 tons of fuel spilled in the Arctic. UC Rusal replied that he was ready to consider the "size of specific payments" when the amount of damage caused to the company is clear.
In July, UC Rusal demanded that Potanin change the management of Norilsk Nickel and move the company's headquarters from Moscow to Norilsk. In the release on August 10, UC Rusal noted that some of its proposals were heard "both in terms of the management model and in terms of strengthening the management team."
In 2018, Interros and UC Rusal agreed to buy out 4% of Norilsk Nickel from Crispian Investments, owned by Roman Abramovich and partners. Then the conflict between the shareholders flared up again, but was frozen in the spring of 2018, when Deripaska came under US sanctions.
Nornickel annually directs about 60% of its pre-tax profits to shareholders. In 2019, it amounted to $ 7.92 billion.