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said that they had never negotiated the sale of their shares
said that they had never negotiated the sale of their shares in the company. Their joint statement calls speculation and rumors on the planned sale "groundless and untrue."
On April 24, a source close to the Gazprom management told Vedomosti that the gas monopoly decided to buy a controlling stake in TNK-BP and even named the price - $20 billion.
Information on Gazprom's interest in AAR's stake in TNK-BP first appeared in September 2006. Two top managers of Gazprom said then that the monopoly conducted informal talks with TNK-BP's Russian shareholders.
A while later, Alexander Ryazanov, ex-president of Gazprom's oil-producing arm Gazprom Neft, confirmed that the monopoly was interested in a stake in TNK-BP. Since then, information about Gazprom's plans with regard to TNK-BP has surfaced from time to time.
However, Viktor Vekselberg, Renova's main beneficiary, said in January 2008 that Gazprom had not made any offers to buy AAR's stake in TNK-BP and that there was no sense in selling it for less than the estimated price of $60 billion.
On April 24, TNK-BP's shares rose 11.43% on the RTS (implying market capitalization of $30.7 billion). Analysts at the Troika Dialog investment company say in their report that the price named by the source in Gazprom would mean a premium on the fair price of TNK-BP, with the price-to-profit ratio being 6.2 to 4.9.
Pavel Kushnir, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, assesses TNK-BP at $40 billion on the basis of free money flows, but he would not advise the purchase of control in TNK-BP this year: Gazprom's gas production is falling, so it should better tackle that problem.


RusAl could merge with Norilsk Nickel and Metalloinvest

United Company Russian Aluminum (UC RusAl) has completed the transaction to buy 25% plus one share in metals giant Norilsk Nickel from billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.
The terms of the deal have been changed, so that Prokhorov will receive not 11%, but 14% of RusAl shares plus over $7 billion, half of it now and the rest within 12 months.
RusAl managers intend to merge their company with Norilsk Nickel within a year.
However, the metal giant's co-owner, Vladimir Potanin, who yesterday discussed his plans with President Vladimir Putin, wants Norilsk Nickel to merge with Metalloinvest, a leading Russian mining and ferrous metals company owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov.
As a result of the deal, Oleg Deripaska's Basic Element holds about 56.7% in RusAl, Viktor Vekselberg and his partners 18.9%, and Swiss trader Glencore about 10.3%.
As Basic Element is worth $41-$46 billion, Prokhorov's 14% stake in RusAl costs $5.74-$6.44 billion and the total sum of the deal is over $13 billion.
RusAl plans to start preparations for a merger as soon as it gains access to Norilsk Nickel's management. It is worried that some managers remain loyal to Potanin, who controls between 25% and 30% of the metal company's shares.
Seeking protection from RusAl's offensive, they started talks on a merger with Metalloinvest in March, and hoped to agree the format for the deal by early May.
Yesterday Potanin met with Putin, reportedly to discuss the international projects of his company, the financial holding Interros.
Kirill Chuiko, an analyst at the Uralsib investment company, said: "I think they discussed a compromise variant stipulating the consolidation of the three companies."
The owners of Norilsk Nickel and market players cannot forecast what turn the development will take.
Alexander Bulygin, head of RusAl, is skeptical about the possibility of consolidating the three companies. He said first RusAl should merge with Norilsk Nickel, and the united company would then consider a merger with an iron ore supplier.
Metalloinvest officials are remaining aloof, saying that the possibility of a merger would depend on decisions of a majority of the two companies' shareholders and the market value of the companies.
However, RusAl and Metalloinvest are private companies and so have not been officially assessed.

RIA Novosti is not responsible for the content of outside sources.

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