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Billionaire Vekselberg Sees Resumed Norilsk Talks as Positive

United Co. Rusal shareholder Oleg Deripaska resumption of talks with Vladimir Potanin on managing OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel is positive for Russia’s biggest mining company, according to billionaire investor Viktor Vekselberg.

“The conflict is destructive and harms business from both sides; it’s absurd,” Vekselberg said in an interview in Moscow today. “I don’t insist on a specific decision.”

Vekselberg and his business partner Len Blavatnik control 15.8 percent of Rusal through their Sual Partners Ltd. venture.

The billionaire quit as Rusal’s chairman in March, citing a “deep crisis” at the aluminum producer after Deripaska rejected offers to sell the company’s 25 percent stake in Norilsk. Deripaska said at the time there wasn’t “even a shallow crisis at Rusal.” In April, as the conflict intensified, Sual filed for arbitration in London, claiming its partners in Rusal breached a 2007 shareholder agreement as they signed trading contracts with its consent.

Deripaska and Potanin, whose Interros Holding controls 28 percent in Norilsk, resumed talks last month to resolve the conflict, people with the knowledge of the situation said last week. The negotiations also cover an increase in dividend payments from Norilsk, which would help Rusal manage its own debt burden, the people said.

The dividend policy of any company should depend on its strategy, and the question should be decided “rationally,” Vekselberg said today.

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