* Norilsk does not exclude cooperation with large traders
* Glencore, Trafigura meet Norilsk management
* Follows truce deal between co-owners, management reshuffle
* Traders have been mostly banned from Norilsk sales for
By Dmitry Zhdannikov and Polina Devitt
LONDON/MOSCOW, Feb 14 Norilsk Nickel
may start working with Glencore or Trafigura to
penetrate new markets, the Russian mining major said, signalling
a thaw after years of refusing to do business with large trading
The world's largest nickel and palladium miner, which sells
a number of metals via long-term deals with end-users, had for
years turned down proposals to work with large traders, saying
it needed stability rather than market volatility.
But a December government-backed truce reached by its main
co-owners led to the departure of its previous managament team,
which had opposed working with the trading houses.
"Norilsk Nickel has its own marketing strategy; this
strategy implies the existence and development of its own
distribution network," Norilsk Deputy Chief Executive Sergey
Batekhin said on Thursday.
"However, the strategy does not exclude cooperation with
large traders like Glencore and Trafigura and others, especially
if this cooperation can bring something new, for example, on
markets that are unknown to us," Batekhin said via a spokesman.
Glencore and Trafigura have held meetings with Norilsk's new
management, industry sources said, following the December deal
to end a long-running dispute between Norilsk's owners -
billionaires Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska.
"Glencore and Trafigura representatives met with new Norilsk
officials to introduce themselves," a source told Reuters.
"Right now, Norilsk is not selling metals to Glencore and
Glencore and Trafigura declined to comment.
"We have had a meeting, but it was only introductory so
far," a trading source said.
The agreement between Norilsk's co-owners brought in Roman
Abramovich, the billionaire owner of the Chelsea soccer club, to
act as a buffer between Potanin and Deripaska.
Under the deal, Abramovich will take a 20 percent voting
stake in Norilsk, while Potanin was elected chief executive and
will stay in the job for up to two years.
Deripaska, who had criticised the previous management's
marketing policies, owns a share in Norilsk through UC RUSAL
, the world's largest aluminium producer, in which
Glencore also has a minority stake.
Glencore in 2010 offered a marketing deal to Norilsk that it
Viktor Sprogis, Norilsk's ex-head of marketing, said last
year Norilsk's major interest was market stability, while
Glencore as a trader was more interested in volatility.
Glencore has traded large volumes of Russian coal, grains
and aluminium for decades and last year extended its reach to
include large volumes of oil.
Glencore is due to merge with miner Xstrata later
this year, making it one of the largest nickel miners in the
Trafigura has had a slightly better experience. The trader
bought a minority stake in Norilsk at the end of the last decade
and also marketed some of its output.
The marketing contracts were small, however, and did not
last long, Norilsk executives said last year.