UPDATE 2-Evtushenkov first to pitch for stake in Russia's Uralkali

Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:18am EDT
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* Oil-to-telecoms tycoon says current selling price is too high

* Evtushenkov sees current market price as fair

* Says "any alliance is possible"

* Uralkali shares down 2 percent, underperforming index

By Olesya Astakhova

VARANDEI, Russia, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Vladimir Evtushenkov, owner of the Russian oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Sistema , on Tuesday became the first to publicly throw his hat into the ring for a stake in the potash producer Uralkali.

The world's largest potash miner infuriated Belarus when it abandoned an export cartel with the state-run Belaruskali in July that had accounted for 40 percent of world supplies. 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.

Evtushenkov, asked on a visit to the Arctic whether he was interested in buying Kerimov's stake, told reporters: "I am interested in Uralkali; it's quite clear that it's a question of price. Now, the selling price is too high."

He said Uralkali's current market price, without a premium, was a fair one.   Continued...