MOSCOW Nov 12 Dmitry Mazepin, the owner of
Russian fertiliser producer Uralchem, has joined the race to
take a stake in the world's largest potash miner Uralkali
, the Vedomosti newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing
Uralkali infuriated Belarus when it abandoned a potash
export cartel with the state-run Belaruskali in July that had
accounted for 40 percent of international sales.
Speculation quickly mounted that Uralkali's main owner,
Suleiman Kerimov, may have to sell his 21.75 percent stake so
the cartel can re-form. Together with his partners, Kerimov owns
a third of the business.
Mazepin may team up with Russian tycoon-turned-politician
Mikhail Prokhorov in a possible deal, which Russia's top lenders
Sberbank and VTB are ready to finance,
Uralchem spokesman Alan Basiev declined to comment.
The report about Mazepin follows a series of speculative
news reports naming possible buyers for Uralkali, although a
slump in potash prices caused by its dash to grab market share
has raised questions about the viability of any deal.
Vedomosti has previously quoted unidentified sources as
naming three possible bidders for Kerimov's stake: Vladimir
Evtushenkov, owner of the Russian oil-to-telecoms conglomerate
Sistema , and his partner Mikhail Gutseriev;
investor Vladimir Kogan with an Arab state fund; and Prokhorov.
Mazepin has a fortune estimated at $3.2 billion by Forbes
magazine. Uralkali has a current market capitalisation of around
$15 billion, and, sources have said, Kerimov himself values the
company at $20 billion.
A possible deal could also ease the situation for Uralkali
chief executive Vladislav Baumgertner, who was detained in Minsk
in August and charged with abuse of office. Russia has requested