MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti) – Gareth Penny, former chief executive of diamond major De Beers, was elected chairman on Monday of a new board of directors at Russian metal and mining giant Norilsk Nickel, as part of a deal to settle the company’s long-standing shareholder dispute.
Norilsk Nickel’s core shareholders RusAl, owned by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, and Interros holding company, controlled by tycoon Vladimir Potanin, signed a reconciliation deal on December 10 to settle their long-standing dispute over the company’s corporate management and strategy.
The deal was signed with the participation of Russian billionaire and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich who agreed to buy a stake in Norilsk Nickel through his Millhouse Capital investment vehicle to help the oligarchs end their feud, restore the balance of influence in the company, improve corporate governance and boost the company’s market capitalization.
Under the deal, RusAl and Interros will each have four representatives on the metals giant’s 13-member board of directors, Millhouse will have one, with RusAl, Interros and Millhouse each nominating an independent director. The deal also envisaged that metals holding Metalloinvest, Norilsk’s biggest minority shareholder, would nominate the board’s 13th member.
Penny said: “The newly elected Board of Directors of Norilsk Nickel includes five independent non-executive directors out of 13 members. The position of the Chairman of the Board is now occupied by an independent director. Such a number of independent directors guarantees that the decisions of the board will be impartial and will serve the interests of all shareholders of the company. The settlement of a dispute between major shareholders should provide the company with a solid platform for further improvement of strategic, operational and corporate governance issues.”
The three independent directors elected to the Norilsk board of directors at the extraordinary general meeting were Gareth Penny, ex-De Beers CEO (nominated by Interros), Cornelius Prinsloo, Natural Resource partnership owner (nominated by RusAl) and Enos Ned Banda, founder and chief executive of Freetel Capital (nominated by Millhouse).
Russian Technology hi-tech corporation head Sergei Chemezov nominated by Metalloinvest and CIS Investment Advisers President Sergei Bratukhin also comply with the definion of independent directors in accordance with Norilsk's Charter.
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