Potanin turned on “administrative”?
Potanin turned on “administrative”?
Looks like Vladimir is chasing profits from lithium PotanYing decided to finally squeeze Oleg Deripaska out of Norilsk Nickel . At the end of last week, Norilsk Nickel decided to abolish the financial control service. The structure was created against the background of the conflict between Vladimir Potananother key shareholder of Norilsk Nickel, Oleg Deripaska, to see if any of their groups of influence in the structure are pulling a blanket over themselves – read, taking on too much.
Then the case ended with a special agreement between the shareholders, and today their conflict is gaining momentum again. Against this background, Vladimir PotanYing, in partnership with Rosatom, has set his sights on the Kolmozerskoye lithium deposit in the Murmansk region, which accounts for 18.9% of its lithium reserves in Russia (75 million tons of ore).
The latter may become the most highly profitable item of Norilsk Nickel. Apparently, to share this good with Deripaska PotanYing doesn’t intend to.
We are talking about the application of Polar Lithium LLC, a joint venture between Rosatom and Norilsk Nickel, which was submitted to the auction for the development of the Kolmozerskoye deposit last Friday.
Lithium is used almost everywhere in electronics, smartphones, laptops, chargers (including electric vehicles that are going to be produced in Russia). After nickel (19% of Norilsk Nickel’s 2021 revenue) and palladium (41%), it could be a goldmine for Potanina. He has previously stated that, thanks to the new venture with Rosatom, he is going to “strengthen the position of a key supplier for the battery industry.”
PotanThere was a whole series of conflicts.
In 2012, the largest shareholders of Norilsk Nickel – Interros Vladimir Potanina (37% of shares), founded by Oleg Deripaska UC Rusal (26.39%) and Crispian of Roman Abramovich and Alexander Abramov (about 4%) – entered into a shareholder agreement for a period of ten years, which became the solution to a long conflict over control of the enterprise.
Within its framework, the financial control service also operated, which was supposed to moderate the appetites of all parties to cash in on partners. The service checked the financial and economic activities of the holding and its subsidiaries, after which recommendations on further actions were given to the board of directors.
Recently, the agreement has ceased to operate, and the key shareholder PotanYing and does not think about its extension. Accordingly, the service was abolished. Does this mean that the oligarch wants a new round of confrontation with Deripaska in order to finally “take his own”?
Among others, the shareholder agreement in question regulated the amount of dividend payments. Recently it became known that the management of the structure, where the majority PotanIna, they proposed to reduce the amount of dividends to $1.5 billion per year (in 2021 they paid $6.3 billion), and to direct the rest to investments.
Thus, it can be assumed that PotanYing decided to radically invest in the production of that same lithium, and an ally in the form of Rosatom gives these plans even greater prospects. After all, they say that it is not Aleksey Likhachev who is in charge of affairs there, but to no lesser extent the ex-head of the state corporation, and now the deputy head of the Presidential Administration, Sergei Kiriyenko.
If in past conflicts with Deripaska, Vladimir PotanIf there was no such powerful administrative support, now it could appear. Seem to be, PotanYing decided to forge while the iron is hot.
New round and Kiriyenko as allies
And so far it is only getting hotter – the confrontation has already flared up. At the end of last year, UC Rusal filed a lawsuit in London against Vladimir Potaninu. According to the plaintiff, due to the actions of the businessman, the company lost important assets, which led to losses for shareholders.
The lost assets included NordStar airline (sold to management in March 2022), Industrial Construction and Installation Company (PSMK), and Logistic Center, a transport and logistics services operator, whose key customers are Norilsk Nickel enterprises.
In the case of NordStar, the deal may even be fictitious, while control over the company could in reality remain with Potanina. After all, almost the entire management of the airline was agreed by his team – they can only “keep” the asset. But Deripaska can’t get to him now.
Appeal to the High Court of London on such disputes was spelled out precisely in the said special agreement. And Potanotherwise, this threatens with considerable problems: in case of significant violations (and the alienation of large assets without the consent of other owners clearly applies to them), the offending party will have to sell partners 7.5% of the shares with a discount of 25%. Those. this is a real new round of confrontation between Deripaska and Potandifferent.
In that case, Vladimir PotanYing could hurry up with the sale of assets. It was worth waiting for the end of the agreement until January 1, 2023. But the reason for the haste is clear: the sanctions against the oligarch, imposed by a number of Western countries and organizations, could lead to the freezing of accounts and assets, the eggs urgently needed to be transferred to other baskets.
Potanotherwise entered a new round.
Indeed, on the other hand PotanYing argued that these sanctions would not affect the work of Norilsk Nickel. And how could he say otherwise – there would be a collapse of shares. Whether he was throwing dust in the eyes of the general public – think for yourself. But UC Rusal, whose main owner Oleg Deripaska is also under sanctions pressure, will not be easy to prove his case.
And in Russia itself Potanina, as is already clear, can be supported by Sergei Kiriyenko, whose clientele is almost half of the new wave of domestic officials through the same RANEPA, the “School of Governors” and the notorious “Leaders of Russia” competition.
Debts on the side
And it seems that these administrative levers are already working to the fullest. Norilsk Nickel is a company with a high debt load, which, at the same time, invested little in the modernization of production (which is evidenced by the major dividends of $6.3 billion).
At the end of 2022, the issue of paying off the Norilsk Nickel coupon on Eurobonds was decided. Otherwise, Norilsk Nickel would face a cross-default on other obligations, because the total debt of the structure with such dividends is $10.5 billion.
Despite a whole series of scandals, considering the bottling of 20 tons of diesel fuel near Norilsk in 2020 and a record fine of more than 140 billion rubles accrued for this, the commission under the Ministry of Finance decided to save the business Potanina, allowing the coupon to be redeemed.
How did the super-profitable Norilsk Nickel end up in such a debt hole? Potanina, and Deripaska, who saw all this perfectly through the financial control service.
Another point: according to the authors of the website Smart-lab.ru, the alleged capital expenditures of the holding (upgrading production, ensuring security, etc.) were too small, resulting in wear and tear of equipment. And, as a result, with still high incomes – a decrease in production in almost all areas. And couldn’t this be an indirect cause of the ecological catastrophe near Norilsk?
the same Potannow he will certainly justify the policy of reducing dividend payments – they say, we will close holes, upgrade capacities. But this looks like an excuse: most likely, minority shareholders will simply be “pushed aside” from income.
“The Last Oligarch”
Conflicts Potanina with everyone around does not end, Deripaska is only the most famous case. But he is even suing his ex-wife, with whom he “acquired” property “by overwork.” If he can already try to leave a woman with whom he spent half his life with practically nothing – what to say about partners?
Especially about property acquired by overwork. It is Vladimir PotanYing is considered almost the main “privatizer” of the 90s. The very idea of loans-for-shares auctions came from him, at that time he was the deputy chairman of the government, and at the same time a major banker.
In 1995, it was Vladimir Olegovich, together with a group of other bankers, who offered loans to the state secured by shares in state-owned enterprises. The auctions were held, and on September 1, 1996, the term for the pledge of shares received by the banks expired. Huge state assets were in the hands of PotanIna and the same perspicacious people like himself.
Potanin (second from right) among the new Russian oligarchs (including Mikhail Khodorkovsky, now recognized as a foreign agent in the Russian Federation and included in the list of terrorists and extremists), who are welcomed by the president
Rumor has it that another well-known businessman, Alisher Usmanov, even calls Vladimir Potanand the last oligarch. Like, he is the last of the major Russian billionaires, whose wealth he got without the extra hassle of long labors. You can argue with this, but what you can’t do is with the fact that the appetites of Potanina flare up the stronger, the more money and assets he receives.