* Gold miner co-owned by M. Prokhorov postpones listing
* Says has not received approval from Russian government
* Commission in charge of decision chaired by Putin
* Analysts speculate political motive behind the decision
By John Bowker and Megan Davies
MOSCOW, Oct 25 Gold miner Polyus Gold , part controlled by tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov, said on
Tuesday it had failed to win approval from the Russian
government for its proposed move to London's prestigious FTSE
Polyus, controlled by Prokhorov and potash magnate
Suleiman Kerimov, said in a statement the government commission
that evaluates potential foreign investment in Russia had
delayed a decision on whether to approve the plans.
Prokhorov, who once set his sights on becoming Russia's next
prime minister, suddenly left politics in September, accusing
the Kremlin's chief political strategist of sabotaging his
Analysts said the decision to hold back Polyus' hopes of
gaining a full listing on the London Stock Exchange could be
linked to politics after such public criticism of political
strategist Vladislav Surkov.
"Some investors will wonder if the "delay" is a reaction to
Mikhail Prokhorov's quick entrance and exit earlier this year on
the Russian political landscape," said Robert Mantse, a mining
analyst at Otkritie bank in Moscow.
"It's very hard to know exactly what is going on behind the
scenes but there may be a political angle. The company had
thought it had dotted all the 'i's and crossed all the 't's," he
Prokhorov, 46, Russia's third richest man with an $18
billion fortune, started his business career selling jeans
before making a fortune in nickel -- some of which he spent
buying the New Jersey Nets basketball team.
The commission for foreign investment is chaired by Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin, who is expected to return as Russia's
president following elections in March.
Polyus's setback is unlikely to endear the company
to UK institutional investors already wary of the political
risks surrounding Russian companies.
Polyus is one of three Russian miners seeking the premium
London listing in an attempt to increase its liquidity, attract
foreign investment and improve its access to capital.
Gold and silver miner Polymetal , which also wants
to raise around $500 million, and Roman Abramovich's steel maker
Evraz are the other two.
Valentina Bogomolova, an analyst at Uralsib, said the reason
behind the delay could be one of many issues.
"It could be political... it could be because so many
companies are looking to list (in the FTSE 100) at the same
time, or it could be because of technical issues," Bogomolova
Polyus said it would go ahead with an extraordinary general
meeting (EGM) this Friday to approve the plans, which involve
setting up a UK-based holding company that would then list in
If approved by shareholders, the scheme would remain
conditional on consent from the Russian government.