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Potanin Says Trafigura, Norilsk May Cooperate Outside Russia

Trafigura Beheer BV, the world’s second-largest trader of industrial metals, may work with OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel on projects outside of Russia, billionaire Norilsk shareholder Vladimir Potanin said.

“Norilsk is a well-managed company in Russia, but management of our foreign assets can be improved,” Potanin said in an interview in Moscow yesterday. “Trafigura may help as it has relevant experience,” said Potanin, who controls about 30 percent of Norilsk through his Interros holding company.

Trafigura has about $1.9 billion of industrial assets around the world, according to the Amsterdam-based company’s website. That includes a 48.5 percent stake of Toronto-listed precious-metals miner Iberian Minerals Corp., 36 percent of Anvil Mining Ltd. and Toronto-based exploration company Cadillac Ventures Inc. Norilsk’s overseas assets include plants and mines in Africa, Australia and northern Europe.

“We are in talks about different options for cooperation with Trafigura, but we have nothing to say right now”, Erzhena Mintasova, a spokeswoman for Norilsk, said by phone today. Nobody at Trafigura’s Amsterdam offices authorized to speak to the media on the company’s global operations couldn’t be reached immediately for comment today.

Trafigura in December said it planned to buy 8 percent of Norilsk from the Russian company. The deal was opposed by United Co. Rusal, which holds 25 percent of Norilsk and has been locked in a dispute with Potanin over management of the company off and on since 2008.

“We need to understand the nature of this deal first before talking about the role of Trafigura in Norilsk’s business,” Vera Kurochkina, a spokeswoman for Rusal, said by e-mail today.

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