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Deripaska Seeks Building Investors

Billionaire Oleg Deripaska, whose United Company RusAl is seeking to restructure more than $14 billion of debt, is in talks with potential investors in his construction, airport and financial-services businesses.

“We see renewed interest toward some of our assets, including stakes in our businesses, from a growing number of investors from Russia, China, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Western Europe,” Timur Supatayev, head of investment at Deripaska’s Basic Element holding company, said in a Nov. 21 e-mailed response to questions. “We are in the middle of negotiations.”

RusAl, the world’s largest aluminum producer, plans an initial public offering in Hong Kong to help repay its borrowings. Deripaska, last year gave up stakes in builder Hochtief and auto parts maker Magna International that were held as collateral by lenders as the value of his investments tumbled. He also cut his RusAl stake.

Basic Element seeks to maintain control of its assets, which are all poised to return to profit next year as the effect of the global financial crisis wanes, Supatayev said.

“All companies generate stable revenues,” he said. “Many have already recovered from the crisis and are marginally profitable. We’re not interested in selling shares in our businesses, let alone giving up control, at crisis-level prices.”  

The economy of the world’s biggest energy producer is recovering as global demand for commodities supports exporters and local consumption rebounds. The record 10.9 percent economic contraction in the second quarter eased to 8.9 percent last quarter. Real disposable incomes posted the biggest jump in more than a year last month and retail sales gained from September.

“Some economic sectors attract investors because they have reached the bottom and one doesn’t have to be a financial guru to expect a steep recovery,” Supatayev said. “With partners we intend to take advantage of the economic situation and get leading market positions by taking over distressed assets.”

On top of the talks with potential investors, Deripaska will extend an option to buy back 25 percent of Strabag, Austria’s biggest builder, until the end of 2010, Basic Element said Monday.

Deripaska is also in talks to swap his stake in Aviakor for shares in state-owned United Aviation Corporation, Yekaterina Pankova, a spokeswoman for Basic Element’s machinery division, said Monday.

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