Polyus may start up to $1bln share sale in April-sources


Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:36pm BST

* Likely to push forward with share sale late April –
sources

* Sale would include Polyus’ Treasury stock of 7.5
pct-sources

* Company may sell up to 10.5 percent – source

* Follows Polyus’ pullback from seeking FTSE 100 inclusion

* Part-owner Prokhorov had run for president

(Adds political background, shares)

By Polina Devitt and Megan Davies

MOSCOW, March 30 (Reuters) – Russia’s largest gold firm
Polyus Gold is likely to go ahead with a share sale
worth between $700 million and $1 billion in late April, paving
the way for a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange, two
sources familiar with the matter said.

Polyus is worth about $10 billion and sits on potentially
lucrative gold reserves in Russia’s far east, and oligarch
stakeholder Mikhail Prokhorov has said he wants to merge the
company with an international player.

A premium listing would create a more liquid acquisition
currency for Polyus to pursue deals, but the long-awaited London
move has been complicated by Russian election politics and laws
that treat the gold sector as strategic.

Polyus, in which billionaire Suleiman Kerimov is also a
shareholder, had aimed to gain a FTSE 100 index spot by
redomiciling from its Jersey home to London and selling stock.

That move has not received the approval needed from a
committee chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was
re-elected to the presidency on March 4, in a contest where
Prokhorov, running on a liberal ticket, ran a respectable third.

Earlier in March, Polyus withdrew its application to create
a new parent company, considered necessary for it to relocate to
London. Redomiciling would have allowed Polyus to be eligible to
join the FTSE 100 by raising its free float to 25 percent,
rather than the 50 percent minimum needed for a Jersey company.

MERGER AIMS

Polyus’ aims for FTSE inclusion and a London premium listing
had been seen as the first step to securing a large-scale merger
deal. A source familiar with its plans to raise its profile in
London said recently that the rest of Polyus’ plans had not
changed, suggesting its ambition to do a large deal may still be
in place.

There has been speculation Polyus is keen to do a deal with
rival Polymetal. Discussions over such a move have
taken place at the shareholder level, two sources familiar with
the matter previously told Reuters.

Both firms have denied they are in talks about a deal.

A move to the FTSE would follow similar moves by Evraz
, part-owned by Chelsea Football Club’s Roman
Abramovich, and Polymetal, part-owned by tycoons Alexander Nesis
and Alexander Mamut with Czech investor PPF, which recently
became premium-listed FTSE 100 stocks.

Gaining FTSE 100 entry typically boosts demand for a
company’s shares, as many institutional funds automatically buy
into its members. Polyus’ London-listed GDRs gained 3 percent on
Friday, rising to $3.07.

Currently traded in London via global depositary receipts
(GDRs), Polyus may sell up to 10.5 percent of its shares to hit
the 25 percent level, enabling it to reduce its $500 million
short-term debt, one of the sources said.

The source said Polyus was likely to sell the 7.5 percent it
holds in treasury but may place up to 10.5 percent, with
existing shareholders reducing their holdings accordingly, to
meet listing requirements.

A share launch, likely in the last week of April, would
probably be in the form of a placement with strategic investors
rather than a secondary public offering, the second source said.

Moving ahead with the plans in April would allow investors
to first view Polyus’ financial results. Polyus has not yet
announced a release date for its 2011 earnings. The company
declined to comment.

(Editing by Douglas Busvine and David Holmes)

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