OAO Uralkali, the world’s largest potash producer, rose the most on Russia’s Micex Index on speculation billionaire investor Suleiman Kerimov may sell his 22 percent stake.
Uralkali jumped as much as 8.8 percent, the biggest intraday gain since April 2012, after Forbes’s Russian edition said billionaires Mikhail Gutseriev and Vladimir Evtushenkov are studying a possible purchase of the stake. Banker Vladimir Kogan is also looking at a bid, it said, citing people it didn’t name.
An exit by Kerimov could bring about a change in strategy at Uralkali, which has lost value since announcing in July its departure from a potash marketing venture with Belarus that controlled more than 40 percent of global exports. Belarus has since detained Chief Executive Officer Vladislav Baumgertner and is seeking to arrest Kerimov and four other employees.
“Kerimov is seen as one of the masterminds of Uralkali’s strategy,” Kevin Whyte, an analyst at VTB Capital in Moscow, said by telephone. “A return to cooperation would only be possible if there’s a radical change in shareholder structure.”
Anton Averin, a spokesman for Kerimov’s Nafta Moskva holding company, denied that the investor had sold out of Uralkali and declined to say whether he has received any offers. Ekaterina Tsukanova, a spokeswoman for Evtushenkov’s Sistema, declined to comment on the report. Gutseriev wasn’t available.
Gutseriev is the founder and owner of OAO Russneft, a Russian oil producer that ships crude to Belarus. Evtushenkov was formerly a partner in the oil company.
“Gutseriev has good relations with Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and he may be a good negotiator to cool down the conflict,” said Yulia Bushueva, managing director of Arbat Capital in Moscow.
Uralkali rose 7.2 percent to 173.81 rubles as of 3:16 p.m. in Moscow. Trading volumes were already 50 percent above the three-month daily average. The company also advanced 7.2 percent in London, trading at a six-week high of $26.11. Yields on its dollar bonds due in April 2018 fell five basis points to 5.317 percent.
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