|Norilsk Nickel completes Stillwater acquisition|
(Adds details, palladium price, Stillwater comment)
By Aleksandras Budrys
MOSCOW, June 24 (Reuters) - Russian metals giant Norilsk
Nickel<GMKN.RTS> <GMKN.RTS> has completed the acquisition of a
51 percent stake in the sole U.S. producer of platinum and
palladium, Stillwater Mining Co. <SWC.N>, the companies said on
In a joint statement, the two sides said Norimet, Norilsk's
London-based trading arm, had acquired 45.5 million new shares
issued by Stillwater, equal to around 51 percent of its stock.
Norimet paid $100 million in cash and about 877,000 ounces
of palladium for the shares.
The value of the deal went down to around $257 million from
$341 million since it was announced last November due to a
decline in the price of palladium, a metal mostly used in
catalytic converters in cars to clean noxious gases.
Norilsk has said the deal will allow it to use Stillwater's
U.S. facilities to sell palladium produced by Norilsk.
Norilsk stopped selling its palladium on the spot market in
the second half of 2001 due to weak prices. But last month it
said it would restart spot sales in the near future.
Palladium prices have plummeted on oversupply and soft
demand for the product, falling to below $200 an ounce from
more than $1,000/oz 2-1/2 years ago. Spot palladium <XPD=> was
quoted at $177.00/182.00 at 0700 GMT on Tuesday.
Norilsk sells most of its palladium to end-users including
General Motors <GM.N> and Japan's Mitsubishi <7211.T>.
Under the current deal Stillwater will buy at least one
million ounces of palladium annually from Norilsk to be resold
to Stillwater customers, including major U.S. car makers.
Norimet is obligated to start a cash tender offer within 30
days to acquire up to 4,350,000 shares in Stillwater, which
could increase Norilsk's stake in the U.S. firm to around 56
percent, the statement said.
Stillwater, based in Columbus, Montana, is scrambling to
raise cash after the development of two Montana mines boosted
debt but failed to produce.
"The investment made by our majority shareholder, Norilsk
Nickel, brings much needed additional capital into the company
to enable us, among other things, to reduce our debt,"
Stillwater Chairman and CEO Francis McAllister said in the
The Stillwater board will include five directors nominated
by Norilsk and four currently serving directors. McAllister
will keep his post.
Last week Russia's central bank allowed Norilsk to transfer
funds abroad to pay for the Stillwater stake, the last
endorsement necessary to complete the deal, previously approved
by Stillwater's shareholders and U.S. regulators.
((Reporting by Aleksandras Budrys; editing by Allan Seccombe;
Reuters Messaging: email@example.com;
+7 095 775 1242))
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