Oligarchs Assets

Rusal Lawsuit : Abramovich’s Role in the Potanin Conflict 2024

A London court granted permission to aluminum giant Rusal on Friday to include Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and his company Crispian Investments Ltd as defendants in the ongoing case against Vladimir Potanin, CEO of Nornickel.

Rusal And Nornickel Owners

Nornickel is renowned as the world’s largest palladium producer and a significant player in refined nickel mining. Potanin, who holds a 37% stake in the company, is at the center of the dispute, while Rusal holds a 26.4% stake and Abramovich, the former owner of Chelsea Football Club, has a 4% stake.

This development marks the latest escalation in the tensions between two of Russia’s leading metal companies.

Roman Abramovich And Vladimir Potanin

The application marks the latest flare-up in relations between two of Russia’s biggest metal companies.

Rusal alleges that Potanin breached a shareholder agreement signed in December 2012, resulting in financial losses for Rusal. Abramovich and his investment firm Millhouse, subsequently replaced by Crispian Investments, were originally involved in the agreement.

During Friday’s hearing, David Mumford, KC for Rusal, mentioned that Crispian Investments raised objections to Rusal’s application, while Abramovich did not respond to it.

Following the hearing, Judge Sean O’Sullivan ruled allowing Abramovich and Crispian Investments to be added as defendants in the case.

“The joining of Crispian Investments Limited and Mr. Roman Abramovich as parties to the case is another step for the implementation of Rusal’s claims against Mr. Vladimir Potanin and his company Whiteleave Holdings Limited,” Rusal said in an emailed statement.

Interros, Potanin’s holding company, opted not to provide a statement regarding the matter.

While Nornickel itself has not faced direct sanctions from Western countries following Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, both Potanin and Abramovich have been targeted by British sanctions.

Oleg Deripaska, the founder of Rusal and another individual under British sanctions, is not involved in the legal proceedings.

The origins of the lawsuit, initially initiated in October 2022, and subsequent claims revolve around a 2012 framework agreement between Nornickel’s two principal shareholders, which governed dividend distributions among other matters.

The primary source of contention has been disputes over dividends and corporate governance. In 2012, Abramovich played a role in mediating a conflict regarding the allocation of profits between investors and reinvestment in Nornickel.

According to court documents, Rusal alleges that Potanin facilitated the transfer of crucial assets out of Nornickel through deceit or at undervalued rates, benefiting himself and his associates. Additionally, Rusal claims that Potanin mismanaged Nornickel, resulting in industrial accidents.

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