Russian billionaire VladimirPotanin‘s Interros Holding said it had completed the purchase from businessman Roman Abramovich of a 2% stake in Norilsk Nickel, which has been the subject of a legal battle.
Abramovich struck a provisional deal last week that allowed him to sell a 4% stake in Norilsk to fellow shareholders Potanin and aluminium producer Rusal, pending the outcome of a London court case.
Rusal is trying to stop Abramovich from selling Nornickelshares, arguing that would violate a 2012 shareholder agreement. The share purchase by Interros could yet be revoked if the court, which is expected to make a decision in May, rules in favour of Rusal.
The dispute is part of a long-running battle for control of Nornickel, a $30-billion company that competes with Brazil’s Vale for the rank of the world’s top nickel producer. It is also the world’s largest palladium producer.
Interros said in statement that it had bought a 2.1% stake from Abramovich, increasing its holding in the miner to 32.9%.
The purchase was made at a price of $234 a share, as set out in Potanin’s initial offer to buy a stake from Abramovich in early February.
Nornickel’s Moscow-listed shares were down 1% at 10 775 roubles ($189) a share on Thursday, underperforming a broader MICEX index which was stable.
It was unclear whether Rusal planned to buy the remaining 2% stake on offer from Abramovich.
Asked about its intentions on Thursday, Rusal told Reuters that it “is considering its options in light of ongoing litigation”. Controlled by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, Rusalholds 27.8% in Nornickel.
According to the arrangement between the three parties reached in the London court last week, any transfer of this 4% stake by Abramovich would be reversed if the court rules in favour of Rusal in the dispute.