London court rules Abramovich’s Crispian cannot sell its Nornickel shares

A London court has ruled that Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s investment vehicle, Crispian Investments, did not have the right to sell more than 6.3 million of its shares in Nornickel, according to a statement from Rusal on Thursday June 28.

Russian businessman Vladimir Potanin, who owns close to a 30% stake in Nornickel, offered to buy Abramovich’s 6.3 million shares in Nornickel for $234 per share through his investment vehicle Bonico Holdings.

Thursday’s High Court ruling favors aluminium producer Rusal, which holds a 27.8% stake in Nornickel, and was seeking an injunction to block the sale of shares in February.

The court ruled that “the ROFR (right of first refusal) was invalid and ineffective such that Crispian was and is precluded under the Framework Agreement from disposing the Offered Shares pursuant to it,” Rusal said in its statement.

Former Rusal president Oleg Deripaska is still a shareholder of the aluminium producer. Rusal was hit with sanctions from the US Treasury in April.

The ruling is the latest development in a fight for control for Nornickel between Potanin and Deripaska, which has spanned more than six years.

In 2012, a settlement was reached where Abramovich took a stake in the Nornickel. The settlement also led to a five-year lock-up period during which shareholders could not sell most of their shares in the nickel producer. The lock-up expired late last year.

The latest ruling comes while nickel is enjoying strongest performance in more than two years. On the London Metal Exchange, the three-month nickel price averaged $14,402.38 per tonne in May, its highest since January 2015.

The metal’s strength reflects low stocks and overarching bullishness from growing demand for electric vehicles.