New US anti-Russian sanctions have frozen the conflict between shareholders of Norilsk Nickel, lawyers and investment bankers interviewed by Vedomosti are of the opinion. The list of the Ministry of Finance included 24 Russians - a large businessman and a high-ranking official - and 15 companies. Among them are Oleg Deripaska and eight of his companies, including UC Rusal. The latter owns a 27.8% stake in Norilsk Nickel.
In the "Norilsk Nickel" since the beginning of the year, a conflict broke out between the main co-owners - UC Rusal and the president of Norilsk Nickel Vladimir Potanin (the structure of Interros is controlled by 32.9% of Norilsk Nickel). The reason was the desire of another major shareholder - Crispian Roman Abramovich and Alexander Abramov - to sell the bulk of his stake: 4% of 6.2%. Initially, a proposal to buy out such a share was sent by one of Potanin's structures. Crispian, by agreement of shareholders, offered the same package to UC Rusal on the same terms.
The latter, however, decided that the repurchase of the stake by Potanin could change the balance of power in Norilsk Nickel, and challenged the deal in court. From the testimony of the parties in the trial, it followed that Potanin and Deripaska had not agreed that it was better to finance the new investment projects of Norilsk Nickel or pay dividends. The court did not yet make a final decision, but in March, allowed the Potanin structure to buy a part of the Crispian package - 2.1%. The remaining should go to UC Rusal, as the company also decided to accept the offer.
In response, UC Rusal announced its intention to ask for shareholder approval to launch Russian roulette in Norilsk Nickel. According to the shareholder agreement, this mechanism is used in the case of irreconcilable contradictions between partners to buy out the share of one of them to another.
"As the situation develops further, it is not clear: as long as there are no negotiations between the companies and whether they will be, it is not known," says a person close to one of the shareholders of Norilsk Nickel.
"Sanctions remove the joint-stock conflict from the agenda," said Alexander Losev, General Director of Sputnik-Capital Management. "Deripaska will not be able to collect a pool of creditors if he suddenly decides to buy out Potanin's stake," Tertychny Agabalyan partner Ivan Tertychnyi agrees.
The fact is that the residents of America are now prohibited from dealing with the persons involved in the sanctions list. And non-residents of the United States risk themselves to be under sanctions if they carry out "significant operations" with the defendants of the list. For example, on April 10, one of the two largest international clearing systems - Clearstream announced the termination of transactions with securities of companies under sanctions, and LME - the restriction on April 17 for the sale of metal UC Rusal. The day before it became known about the sale of "Renova" Viktor Vekselberg 17% stake in Swiss Sulzer, so that the share of the first fell to the uncontrolled - 48%. The transaction amount will be more than 600 million Swiss francs. But the seller will receive money only when Sulzer is satisfied that it will not fall under sanctions.
Therefore, if UC Rusal receives financing for the purchase of Potanin's stake in a non-US bank, then the bank itself runs the risk of being penalized, Tertychny said. Similarly, with Potanin. Buying a stake from UC Rusal may entail sanctions for the businessman and his structures, Tertychny continues. Financial operations with persons from the sanctions list are prohibited, and Potanin can not pay. "If Potanin decides on such a deal, he will most likely need to get" comfort "for lobbying in Washington through guaranteeing his non-inclusion in the sanction list from OFAC," Tertychny explains.