Oleg Derpiska raised Potanin on dividends

The oligarch once again pushed the payment of huge dividends to Norilsk Nickel, which was opposed by another shareholder Vladimir Potanin.
MMC Norilsk Nickel may pay $ 1.2 billion of final dividends for 2019, or 557.2 rubles per share. Vladimir Potanin proposed reducing payments last year to create reserves. But Rusal Oleg Deripaska did not agree to this. The oligarch wants to leave the main shareholder Vladimir Potanin without money in order to get carte blanche to control Norilsk Nickel?

Norilsk Nickel’s dividends for 2019 may total $ 4.8 billion, including final payments. In total, the company directs 60% of EBITDA on dividends. The amount of dividends recommended by the board of directors of the company.

At the same time, against the background of coronavirus, metals are reduced in price. In connection with the crisis, Vladimir Potanin suggested that the shareholders of the company postpone dividend payments in 2020 to a later date - "until the situation resolves." This would leave a portion of the profit in reserve.

However, Deripaska is determined. Apparently, he does not need these reserves - he seeks to “pull out” more funds from the MMC. The oligarch wants to send money for personal projects, and then Potanin will have to spend his share on the support of Norilsk Nickel.

The confrontation between the shareholders of MMC has recently been gaining momentum. Are we witnessing a new series of nickel wars?

Palladium stumbling block

Recently it became known that one of the largest projects in the world for the mining of platinum group metals, the Arctic Palladium, was in jeopardy. The joint venture of Russian Platinum Musa Bazhaev and MMC Norilsk Nickel broke up. “Across” stood again Oleg Deripaska.

Prior to this, it was planned that Norilsk Nickel would enter into the joint venture licenses for the development of the Maslovskoye field, and Musa Bazhaev’s company - the Chernogorskoye field and the southern part of the Norilsk-1 field. Over the last Potanin "fought" for 6 years.

He unsuccessfully tried to challenge the decision of Rosnedr, who recognized the winner of "Russian Platinum". The latter, in court, stated that Norilsk Nickel literally did not give her access to the infrastructure.

Then the President’s apparatus had to intervene in the dispute, which eventually sided with Bazhaev. And Deripaska stood all this time on the sidelines and rubbed his palms?

And so, when the issue seemed already resolved, Rusal blocked the project. It is noteworthy that Bazhaev is unlikely to be able to develop these deposits on his own, and therefore it is possible that Deripaska decided to get cheap Russian Platinum assets, which will become an additional argument in the dispute over Norilsk Nickel shares with Vladimir Potanin.

In other words, the owner of Rusal, it seems, simply intended to "squeeze" Potanin out of Norilsk Nickel. And therefore it is not surprising that Deripaska now insists on increasing dividend payments, and not on creating a reserve. The oligarch decided to leave Potanin without money, so that he did not have what to beat?

"Sworn Friends" by "Nornickel"

The confrontation between the two shareholders lasts since 2008, when Oleg Deripaska bought a stake in Norilsk Nickel from Mikhail Prokhorov. Since then, “three wars” have already been counted between businessmen.

From the very beginning, Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska had different views on the company’s activities: the former defended volume investments, while the latter advocated dividends for his projects. That is, dividend policy has repeatedly become a stumbling block.

In 2012, it seemed that the conflict had subsided when Roman Abramovich became the minority owner of Norilsk Nickel. However, in 2018, the businessman decided to sell 4% of the shares from 6.2%, and

It even came to “Russian roulette” - a mechanism whereby shareholders could sell their packages to each other, offering a great price. But the conflict was still resolved in court.

A London court sided with Oleg Deripaska, banning Abramovich from selling his block of shares. And at the beginning of the month it became known that the judicial conflict of the shareholders of MMC Norilsk Nickel was completely suspended. Structures of Vladimir Potanin and Roman Abramovich decided to refuse the opportunity to appeal the decision of a London court in a dispute with Rusal on the sale of shares of MMC Norilsk Nickel.

Experts began to reflect - they say, this decision will mitigate the impact on the corporate governance of the conflict of shareholders of MMC. But the appeal was withdrawn at the end of last year - since then, the shareholders of Norilsk Nickel have repeatedly demonstrated the preservation of conflict relations.

Irreconcilable partners

Last year, news surfaced that Oleg Deripaska's ex-wife, Polina Yumasheva, and her father, Valentin Yumashev, are looking for buyers for their shares and shares of the common children of Yumasheva and Deripaska in the En + metallurgical holding. Then it was said that none other than Vladimir Potanin was aiming for the asset.

Yumashev immediately denied all the rumors, but it immediately became clear: someone was trying to undermine Deripaska's position.
It seems that even the top managers of Norilsk Nickel no longer have the patience because of the endless scandals. Last month, three senior vice presidents of the MMC left their posts immediately. Moreover, such personnel changes can be an alarming “bell” for Vladimir Potanin - it is his people who leave. Oleg Deripaska rejoices again?

I recall the story of how, two years ago, the vice president of Norilsk Nickel Elena Bezdenezhnykh, who had worked for the company for 20 years, transferred to a similar position at Rusal. As the Daily Storm wrote, he could have been involved in the disappearance of 2 billion rubles from the MMC. Does Deripaska know how to make attractive offers to the people he needs? So, maybe the current departure of employees is also related?

Deripaska's desperate measures?

In 2018, Oleg Deripaska's assets in the United States were sanctioned. As a result, the businessman was forced to reduce the share in his company below 50%. After that, US authorities lifted sanctions against En + and UC Rusal and Eurosibenergo controlled by it. But the oligarch himself remained under sanctions, which he is trying to challenge in court to this day, but so far without success.

The coronavirus pandemic came in as a bonus to all the hardships, because of which En + risks not paying dividends for the past year. She did not pay them a year earlier. In 2017, the volume of payments amounted to $ 394 million. That is, Deripaska simply has nowhere to take money from?

In February, it became known that the En + holding mortgaged securities on a loan of 110 billion rubles. Deripaska needed this money to buy shares from VTB. Before that, the data center company of Oleg Deripaska's holding acquired 21.37% of the holding from VTB for $ 1.59 billion.

To pay off this loan, the oligarch can again pledge one of his assets. However, this scheme painfully resembles what knowledgeable people call the financial pyramid.

It seems that now Oleg Deripaska is forced to get out by any means, and therefore there is a feeling that the fourth "war" for the assets of Norilsk Nickel may be just around the corner. Or she is already unfolding right now.

It is not surprising that Deripaska so vehemently defends the payment of dividends by Norilsk Nickel. The oligarch needs funds for his own projects? And for this you need to "remove" Vladimir Potanin from the MMC. Resisting the latter is becoming increasingly difficult.