Norilsk Gets 73% Of OGK-3

Norilsk Nickel said Thursday that its stake in power generator OGK-3 would go up to more than 73 percent as minority shareholders take its buyout offer.

Unified Energy System has agreed to sell 19.2 percent of OGK-3, reducing its holding to less than a blocking stake.

In March, Norilsk bought 17.8 billion shares of OGK-3 for $3.1 billion, and combined with the 14 percent it already owned, the purchase brought Norilsk just short of control. It was then obliged by law to offer to buy out OGK-3's minority shareholders, including UES, which currently holds 38 percent.

Norilsk said in a statement Thursday that most shareholders had taken its offer of 4.54 rubles per share, boosting its stake to more than 73 percent.

UES initially said it would decline the offer entirely, but spokeswoman Margarita Nagoga said Thursday that it would allow Norilsk to buy out half its stake, or 19.2 percent. As UES is 50 percent state-owned, the government has essentially decided to give up its indirect stake in OGK-3, Nagoga said.

UES will be left with less than a blocking stake of 25 percent plus one share, and will have less influence over OGK-3's investment program. It has sparred with Norilsk over the program in recent months.

Norilsk wants to spend between $1.6 billion and $1.8 billion, or possibly less, on developing OGK-3, while UES has demanded it spend up to $3 billion, fearing that a shortage of investment will lead to a nationwide electricity crunch

Source: The Moscow Times, Friday, July 20 — 2007