Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel to channel 90 pct of net profit toward dividend payout

MOSCOW – Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel said on Thursday it will pay $2 billion, or 90 per cent of its 2012 net profit, in dividends to shareholders.

Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest nickel producer, said in a regulatory filing Thursday it would double the payout compared with a year earlier, to $12.7 per share.

The decision, which was approved by the annual shareholders’ meeting, is likely to please the company’s billionaire stakeholders — especially tycoon Oleg Deripaska, whose mining company Rusal reported nearly $11 billion in net debt at the end of the first quarter.

Norilsk Nickel had been embroiled in a 4-year shareholder dispute until tycoon Roman Abramovich stepped in last December to buy 6 per cent in the company, ending a feud between Vladimir Potanin and Deripaska. Deripaska owns 25 per cent in Norilsk while Potanin holds 28 per cent.

The two agreed for Potanin to take over as chief executive, replacing Vladimir Strzhalkovsky whom Deripaska had strongly opposed. Potanin pledge to improve corporate governance and boost dividend payments, something Deripaska had sought.