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Norilsk Shareholders' Vote Disputed

Former Norilsk Nickel chairman Alexander Voloshin has refused to approve the results of its shareholders' meeting, which cost him his post, citing voting irregularities.

"I do not consider it possible to sign the protocol of the annual shareholders' meeting before violations are eliminated," said a letter from Voloshin to Norilsk's management.

An annual shareholders' meeting re-elected its board at the end of June. As a result, one of the two biggest shareholders, the world's top aluminum producer United Company RusAl, lost one seat on the board to which it had recommended Voloshin.

The voting results may signal a new battle for control of Norilsk between RusAl's majority owner tycoon, Oleg Deripaska, and Vladimir Potanin, owner of Interros. Each company controls slightly more than a quarter of Norilsk.

RusAl, which believes that the results had been manipulated, said it would seek to convene an extraordinary shareholders meeting.

Interros said then it would support calling an EGM, although it did not understand the nature of RusAl's accusations.

In his letter, Voloshin says he disagrees with the voting results because the number of shareholders participating in the voting was about 93 percent of the total, while at the start of the meeting only some 76 percent were announced to be present.

"This means that after the start of the meeting some 17 percent of share[holder]s have secretly 'penetrated' into it and voted," Voloshin said.

Voloshin also said RusAl had been excluded from voting on one of the points of the agenda.

Norilsk denied any wrongdoing.

"We believe that the company has obeyed at the AGM all the rules set by the existing Russian legislation and Norilsk's charter," Norilsk's press office said in an e-mailed statement.

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