UPDATE 1-Russia's Prokhorov agrees to buy Kerimov stake in Uralkali

Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:44am EST
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MOSCOW Nov 18 (Reuters) - Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov agreed on Monday to buy Suleiman Kerimov's 21.75 percent stake in Uralkali, the world's largest potash miner, to try to calm tensions over the collapse of a sales cartel.

Prokhorov's investment firm, Onexim, said it would complete the deal shortly but did not disclose terms of the transaction. Uralkali pulled out of a Russo-Belarussian sales pact in July that sent potash prices reeling.

"The purchase of the stake in Uralkali is a long-term investment in a company that is unique from the standpoint of its position in its industry and its role in the world economy," Onexim CEO Dmitry Razumov said.

Prokhorov is a long-time former business partner of Kerimov who has launched a political career. He ran against President Vladimir Putin in last year's presidential election but remains a leading establishment figure.

Talks continue, sources said, on the possible sale of the stakes in Uralkali held by Kerimov's partners. Filaret Galtchev owns 7 percent of Uralkali and Anatoly Skurov 4.8 percent, bringing their combined interest to just over a third.

Sources on both sides of the talks said Kerimov's asking price was based on a $20 billion equity valuation but the final price was flexible and would probably be slightly lower.

Along with Prokhorov, businessman Dmitry Mazepin, co-owner of fertilizers producer Uralchem, and Russian state arms-to-technology group Rostec are interested in buying into Uralkali, three sources said.

Asked whether the Kremlin has granted green light to a deal to sell an Uralkali stake, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov: "This is totally a business issue and one doesn't need (to get) approval from the Kremlin."

Russian state company Rostec does not plan to buy Uralkali, a Rostec representative said.