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Wed, Dec 30, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Kuok, Rothschild may buy shares in Rusal IPO: sources


Companies controlled by Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok (郭鶴年) and Nathaniel Rothschild may buy shares in United Co Rusal’s US$2 billion Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO), three people familiar with the plan said.

Paulson & Co, the New York hedge fund run by billionaire John Paulson, and the Russian state-owned development bank Vnesheconombank also may be among so-called “cornerstone” investors guaranteed stocks in an IPO in exchange for a pledge not to sell them for a number of months, the people said.

They declined to be identified because the information is private.

Kuok and companies in the Kuok Group he founded may invest in Rusal as cornerstones, the people said.

“It certainly helps when investors of that sort of caliber express interest,” said Kenny Tang (鄧聲興), an analyst at Redford Securities Co (鴻福證券) in Hong Kong. “It’ll be great for Rusal’s IPO if these investors can convince other investors that they’re in it for the long run and not just looking for a quick profit.”

Billionaire Oleg Deripaska is trying to secure investors for the IPO, which will make Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer, the first Russian company to list in Hong Kong. Vnesheconombank may buy as much as a 3 percent stake, while other state-run lenders also may buy Rusal shares.

BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest asset manager, has expressed interest in buying shares in the offering, though it wouldn’t invest as a cornerstone, one of the people said.

Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd and the city’s Securities and Futures Commission said Rusal will be excluded from offering stock to retail investors when it approved the company’s IPO application earlier this month.

Rusal’s board approved a price that valued the company at US$16 billion to US$22 billion, the people said, declining to name a price per share.

The company is worth US$21.1 billion to US$26.7 billion, Bank of China International Holdings Ltd, one of the IPO’s arrangers, said in a report. Rusal, which booked US$5.95 billion of losses last year, may post a full-year profit of US$505 million this year, the bank said.

The Hong Kong exchange’s listing committee withheld approval for Rusal’s IPO application twice as it sought more information, including details of a debt restructuring. Earlier this month, Rusal signed a US$17 billion accord with creditors in Russia’s largest corporate debt restructuring.

“On the other hand, it could be that they’re only attracted to the IPO because of the potentially lower price after all the negative publicity recently,” Tang said.

Rothschild, 38, a Rothschild banking family member and co-chairman of New York hedge fund firm Atticus Capital LP, is a friend and an adviser to Deripaska.

Rothschild and Deripaska became front-page news in the UK last year when Rothschild wrote in a letter to the London-based Times newspaper that George Osborne, finance spokesman for Britain’s Conservative opposition, sought a donation for his party from Deripaska. Osborne subsequently gave up fund-raising for the party.

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