Norilsk Nickel got into a mess in Botswana

What the expansion into Africa brought for Norilsk Nickel and its general director Vladimir Potanin.
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The corporation "Norilsk Nickel" is ready to go to the end, and bankrupt neither much nor little, but the whole African state. Despite the fact that the International Monetary Fund is actively playing on the side of Botswana, its representatives demand consistent privatization of all the country's raw materials. This requirement contradicts the preliminary agreements of Norilsk Nickel with the government of Botswana about the repurchase of its stake in the company.

Currently, the London court is considering a $ 277 million lawsuit, which Norilsk Nickel filed against the government of Botswana and BCL. Thus, the loud colonial adventure of the general director of Norilsk Nickel Vladimir Potanin comes to the end.

It began in 2007 as a result of the purchase for $ 6.4 billion of the Canadian corporation LionOre Mining International, a major nickel producer with enterprises and mines in Western Australia, Botswana and South Africa. This deal was preceded by a real battle between Norilsk Nickel and Xstrata, an international mining corporation, which also tried to buy LionOre. The time for LionOre Mining acquisition was chosen very badly - at the peak of the commodity boom, the traces of which evaporated a year after the purchase. As a result, the Australian mine Black Swan had to be mothballed and then sold.

In Botswana, where 85% of Tati Nickel were from Norilsk Nickel (the remaining 15% belonged to the state even then), the situation unfolded according to the African scenario. Despite the fact that Transparency International for a long time represented the country as an exemplary one on the continent, and its rating exceeded those of South Africa, Spain and Italy, Norilsk Nickel met here worthy competitors.

And at the turn of 2013-2014, Vladimir Potanin zasobiralsya "out", starting negotiations with the government of Botswana on the sale of the majority stake. The local corporation BCL (Bamangwato Concession Limited), wholly owned by the state, was selected for the role of the buyer. She promised to pay Norilsk Nickel $ 337 million, after which she gained control over the asset. Only that money did not come to Norilsk Nickel, instead, in October 2016, the government of Botswana began liquidating BCL. "Norilsk Nickel" waited a little longer, but did not dare to fight on foreign soil and went to the London court in November 2016 with a $ 277.2 million claim (Norilsk Nickel had to reduce the selling price due to a drop in metal prices). All this time, Vladimir Potanin did not lose the hope of finding at least some kind of buyer for his African assets, which a decade ago seemed like a real Eldorado, and now have turned into such a real illiquid.

In the end, the consortium of investors from Dubai Emirates Investment House became interested in Potanin's offer. As expected in such situations, it was represented by Emirates Huhs Group, an investment empire that acquires a Botswana asset in the interest of the Emir of Dubai family, and, in turn, is close to the chairman of the board of directors of the holding Abdullah Mangush.

Doubts about the financial possibilities of the sheikhs from Dubai prompted their intention not to pay out for the asset, but only to begin their search - in case of a positive decision. But the real blow to the alleged deal was made by the recent IMF memorandum, in which it was called non-transparent and calling questions to buyers because of their ability to pay the asset.

"Norilsk Nickel" in this story began to look not only injured, but also humiliated. Moreover, representatives of the IMF in the dispute of Botswana by the Russian company in principle are not on the side of Norilsk Nickel, as the London court's decision can simply bankrupt the whole country in Africa. After that, problems with nickel in its territory may be a minor technical problem. And Norilsk Nickel will have to negotiate with not one, but several governments at once.