Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Group is among potential bidders for billionaire Suleiman Kerimov’s stake in potash producer OAO Uralkali, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Prokhorov, who sold his 38 percent of Polyus Gold International Ltd. (PGIL) to associates of Kerimov in February, hasn’t made a formal offer, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Kerimov is seeking a price based on a market value of more than $20 billion for the company as a whole, they said. That would be at least a 28 percent premium to today’s share price.
Kerimov, who controls 33 percent in Uralkali with two business partners, began receiving offers from potential buyers after Belarus arrested Uralkali Chief Executive Officer Vladislav Baumgertner on Aug. 26, a month after he pulled out of a marketing joint venture that controlled 40 percent of the global exports of the crop nutrient.
Uralkali has a market value of about $16 billion based on today’s share price, down more than 6 percent in London from July 29, the day before it exited the trading partnership and said it would ramp up output, eroding potash prices. The stock plummeted 19 percent on July 30.
Prokhorov’s company, which sold its Polyus stake for $3.62 billion, is the only potential bidder for Uralkali that has cash for the deal, said Kirill Chuyko, BCS Financial Group’s head of equity research in Moscow.
Russian entrepreneur Vladimir Kogan, a longtime ally of President Vladimir Putin, is the leading bidder, people said on Sept. 13. Other potential approaches may come from billionaires Mikhail Gutseriev and Vladimir Evtushenkov, Forbes Russia reported this month, citing people it didn’t identify.
“Kogan looks like the preferred bidder, given that he has political backing,” Chuyko said by phone. “Prokhorov is just studying the option, but is unlikely to proceed if Kerimov insists on the premium.”
Anton Averin, a spokesman for Kerimov’s Nafta Moskva, declined to comment, as did Andrey Belyak, an Onexim spokesman.
Onexim weighed a purchase of Uralkali in 2010, stepping back to allow the purchase by Kerimov, who was Prokhorov’s partner in Polyus Gold at the time.
Kerimov and his partners’ stake will rise to 38 percent after Uralkali fulfills a pledge to cancel about 12.4 percent of its shares held as treasury. Chengdong Investment Corp., a unit of sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp., which exchanged bonds for a 12.5 percent stake in Uralkali yesterday, will hold about 14 percent.
Baumgertner continues to be held in a Belarus KGB prison, charged with abuse of office as chairman of the trading joint venture, Belarusian Potash Co.
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