November 12, 2013 / 6:31 AM / 4 years ago

Russia's Uralchem owner joins the race for Uralkali - report

MOSCOW, Nov 12 (Reuters) - 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 unnamed sources.

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, Vedomosti said.

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 his extradition.

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