Billionaire Prokhorov Said to Agree on Polyus Stake Sale

Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Holdings Ltd. agreed to sell his stake in Polyus Gold International Ltd. to investors as he diversifies away from commodities, said three people with knowledge of the plan.

Onexim and a group of investors selected by billionaire Suleiman Kerimov’s Nafta Moskva sought approval from the U.K. Takeover Panel for the deal, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. They didn’t name the buyers of the 37.8 percent stake in the London-traded producer.

Prokhorov, the 68th richest individual on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with $13.6 billion, is selling industrial assets and keeping financial ventures. OAO Gazprom’s unit is buying his Quadra utility, Vedomosti reported. Onexim gained control of Renaissance Capital, a Moscow-based investment bank, from founder and shareholder Stephen Jennings in November.

Polyus may merge with Polymetal International Plc should the sale by Prokhorov succeed, according to Uralsib Capital.

“That’s why current Polymetal owners Alexander Nesis or Alexander Mamut are unlikely to be Polyus buyers as otherwise they would need to do a mandatory offer to minorities in case of the merger,” Valentina Bogomolova, a Uralsib analyst, said by phone. Andrey Abashin, a Polymetal spokesman, couldn’t comment.

Dividing Stake

The group of investors will divide the Polyus stake among themselves so they don’t have to make a mandatory offer, said the people, who didn’t divulge a price. JPMorgan is advising on the deal, VTB Group, Russia’s second-largest lender, will help fund it and the Takeover Panel may decide this month, they said.

Onexim, Nafta Moskva and VTB’s press services declined to comment on the deal. JPMorgan in Moscow also wouldn’t comment.

Onexim was considering an international merger before Prokhorov decided to sell his stake. On Sept. 12, his company said it was in early talks with two potential buyers for stakes of less than 20 percent each in the producer.

Nafta Moskva, with 40.2 percent of Polyus, said at the time it was in talks on providing financial or other support to one of the potential purchasers. In 2010, Kerimov and his partners gained control of OAO Uralkali, splitting a 53.2 percent stake among themselves and avoiding a mandatory offer to minorities.

Prokhorov’s stake had a value of $3.6 billion based on the share price yesterday. The company today rose as much as a record 8.5 percent and traded at 215 pence by 11:52 a.m.

Kerimov paid $1.3 billion for 37 percent of Polyus in 2009 from billionaire Vladimir Potanin, Vedomosti said at the time.

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