23 January 2018, Tuesday, 12:49

Russia's Onexim Group expected to acquire Kerimov's stake in Uralkali


Suleiman Kerimov, the top shareholder of potash producer Uralkali, is expected to sell his 21.75-percent stake to Russia's Onexim Group.

In a press release, Onexim Group says that the parties expect the transaction to close shortly, that the deal does not require any "regulatory approvals," and that the terms of the transaction are confidential.

"The purchase of the stake in Uralkali is a long-term investment in a company that is unique from the standpoint of its position in its industry and its role in the world economy," Dmitry Razumov, director general of Onexim Group, is quoted as saying. "We are certain that the potash industry has strong fundamentals, and that Uralkali, as the world's leading producer and the key player in the industry, has a considerable potential for growth in value. Onexim Group, in turn, has extensive experience in managing major industrial assets and creating shareholder value in public companies."

“Over the time of our investment in Uralkali, we have achieved the strategic goal of putting together Russia’s two largest potash producers [Uralkali and Silvinit], which led to the creation of the global leader in the potash industry," Pavel Grachev, chairman of the board of Mr. Kerimov's investment group Nafta Moskva, is quoted as saying. "We are now moving towards different goals and challenges. And we are positive that with the arrival of the new investor, Uralkali will enjoy new opportunities for its continued strategic development."

Mr. Kerimov, who directly owns 21.75 percent in Uralkali, has been accused by the Belarusian government of causing severe economic damage to Minsk because of the Russian company's decision to quit its joint export arm with Salihorsk-based Belaruskali.

Mr. Kerimov is said to be ready to sell his stake amid the potash row, with banker Vladimir Kogan, tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov and an alliance of Vladimir Yevtushenkov and Mikhail Gutseriyev expressing an interest in buying it.

News agency Bloomberg reported on October 22 that Mr. Prokhorov's company Onexim had proposed exchanging assets, including shares and cash, for the Uralkali stake.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka has repeatedly said that Belarus would be willing to restore its alliance with Uralkali if Mr. Kerimov sold his stake. The Kremlin is said to be in favor of the restoration of the sales cartel as well.

On October 21, Mr. Lukashenka said that he wanted Mr. Gutseriyev, an oil tycoon who is building a potash plant in Belarus, to buy Mr. Kerimov's stake.