July 26 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Alexander Nesis sold his stake in OAO Uralkali, the world’s largest potash producer, two weeks after the company bought out fellow shareholder Zelimkhan Mutsoev for $1.3 billion.
The shares were sold “in several small stakes on and off the market, with buyers representing several portfolio investors,” Uralkali said in the statement today, citing Nesis’s ICT Group. Nesis completed selling his stock this month, three people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News earlier, asking not to be identified as the information was private.
Nesis bought into Uralkali together with billionaires Suleiman Kerimov and Filaret Galchev in 2010. He held 5.1 percent of the Berezniki, Russia-based fertilizer producer at the end of April, which would be valued at about $860 million at today’s closing price.
“Nesis is a member of the group of controlling shareholders and he has sold his stake just after Mutsoev,” Elena Sakhnova, a VTB Capital analyst, said by phone. “The market may take it as a bad signal.” Uralkali pared its gains after Nesis’s sale was reported, closing 1.6 percent higher at 189.43 rubles in Moscow, after earlier advancing as much as 4.3 percent.
Uralkali’s shares fell 13 percent in Moscow in the first four days of this week, before climbing as much as 4.3 percent today in Moscow. The company is carrying out a $1.6 billion buyback from the market, with purchases totalling $1.25 billion as of July 19, according to a company statement.
Uralkali, which mines potash, a crop nutrient that strengthens the roots of plants, said in April that Nesis had reduced his stake to 5.1 percent from 9.94 percent. Mutsoev agreed in June to sell his 189 million shares, a stake of about 6.4 percent, for 217.3 rubles a share.
ICT Group plans to use funds received from the sale of the Uralkali shares to finance projects in railway transportation, the potash producer said, citing representatives of Nesis’ company. Vladislav Vershinin, ICT’s spokesman, confirmed the information on the sale, declining to elaborate.
ICT owns the Titran-Express plant, which manufactures units for railway equipment and special-purpose railroad cars. It also owns the Tikhvin Freight Car Building Plant.
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