Deripaska plans to offer 25pc of SMR shares in Hong Kong float
Nigel Rosser in London
Russia's richest man Oleg Deripaska has announced plans for an initial public offering on the Hong Kong stock exchange for his firm SMR, which owns his mineral assets.
Mr Deripaska plans to float at least 25 per cent of the firm's shares in Hong Kong, after declaring the territory offered fewer 'legal' difficulties than floating in London.
Mr Deripaska, who amassed a US$28 billion fortune during Russia's 'aluminium wars', says Hong Kong was 'less regulated' than the London Stock Exchange.
Currently banned from entering the United States because of alleged links to the Russian mafia - which he denies - Mr Deripaska became rich after taking control of his lucrative local aluminium smelter in the early 1990s and ferociously defending it against all-comers.
The announcement came as he hit out at claims in London that a rival in an ongoing High Court battle faced assassination, trumped-up charges and an unfair trial in Russia.
Mr Deripaska said he was 'offended' by a judge's ruling in London last week that his opponent, Michael Cherney, would not get a fair hearing in his dispute with him back in Russia. The tycoon said the claims in the London court were pejorative and inappropriate.
'As a Russian citizen, Mr Deripaska is offended by the pejorative claims made by the English court about the Russian judicial system,' said a statement issued on his behalf in Moscow.
'Such pejorative statements are particularly inappropriate at a time when the Russian Federation has made substantial progress in strengthening its judicial system.'
Mr Justice Christopher Clarke said on Thursday that Michael Cherney, a figure in 1990s privatisations of the Russian aluminium industry, could sue Mr Deripaska in London.
Mr Justice Clarke said Mr Cherney had made a 'good arguable case' of the risks of holding the proceedings in Russia, such as 'assassination, arrest on trumped-up charges, and lack of a fair trial'.
Mr Deripaska said he was 'seeking leave to appeal' Mr Justice Clarke's judgment in the long-running feud.
Mr Cherney said he met Mr Deripaska in 1993 and soon after helped him get a job as an executive at a smelter in Sayanogorsk, in the republic of Khakasia. Fearing violence, Mr Cherney moved to Israel in 1994, where he still lives.
Mr Deripaska and Mr Cherney each owned 50 per cent in Siberian Aluminum or Sibal, until 1998, when they both reduced their stakes to 40 per cent. Sibal then merged with the aluminium assets of Sibneft to form Russian Aluminum or Rusal.
Sibal and Sibneft each took 50 per cent stakes in the new company. Mr Cherney said he was entitled to 20 per cent of Rusal after the deal.
At the heart of the conflict are several agreements made in a London hotel in 2001.