Russian billionaire Potanin named chief of Norilsk

Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin was appointed Monday the general director of mining giant Norilsk Nickel, the company said.

The board of directors unanimously voted to replace the previous company chief with Potanin, 51, as part of an agreement to end a shareholder feud between him and the other billionaire shareholder in Norilsk, Oleg Deripaska.

Potanin's Interros investment firm and Deripaska's Hong Kong-listed Rusal have for years squabbled over Norisk Nickel's strategy, sparking concern in the Kremlin about the future of the company.

However last week Rusal and Interros said in a joint statement that they will sell 3.87 million and 5.42 million shares respectively to Millhouse, the investment vehicle controlled by Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, in order to reach a balance of influence over Norilsk.

The $1.49 billion deal included the post of chief executive of the world's largest nickel producer going to Potanin.

After the deal, Potanin's company will own 30.3 percent in Norilsk Nickel and Deripaska's Rusal 27.8 percent. Abramovich's Millhouse plans to eventually own 10 percent in the nickel producer, business daily Vedomosti said Monday.

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