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RusAl Aims for Deal By End of November

United Company RusAl is still hoping to restructure its $7.4 billion debt to foreign banks by the end of November, as the company races to clean up its balance sheet ahead of an initial public offering, the firm said Thursday.

But no agreement was reached Thursday, which RusAl chairman Viktor Vekselberg said was the deadline for restructuring the firm’s debt with foreign banks if it wanted to get permission to sell its shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

“I can’t speak for Mr. Vekselberg,” said a RusAl spokeswoman, who declined to be identified in line with company policy. “We have always said our deadline for debt restructuring is the end of November, but not Nov. 26.”

Banking sources told Reuters that the share offering’s road show had been postponed to Dec. 7, but that the deal was within RusAl’s grasp.

“RusAl postponed a roadshow by several days, but it still has enough time to strike the deal this year. Simply, the pre-marketing period will be cut,” a banking source close to the deal told Reuters on Thursday.

“As of today they have got 98.1 percent of Western banks credit-approved on the restructuring agreement, but it’s subject to documentation,” a second banking source said.

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s listing committee held its first meeting on RusAl’s IPO application Thursday and will hold a follow-up meeting next week, a source close to one of the banks underwriting the IPO told Interfax.

The source added that the discussion on RusAl’s application “was positive” and that RusAl was committed to holding its IPO in 2009.

Sources have linked the bourse’s decision to RusAl’s success in securing a debt agreement.

Analysts have warned that if the IPO is held too close to the holiday season, it may find a poor showing of investors.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said earlier this week that Vneshekonombank would buy a 3 percent stake in RusAl and planned to remain a shareholder in the company for at least three years.

VEB will be a “cornerstone investor” in the IPO, while domestic and foreign investors will buy the remaining 7 percent, Kudrin said. He added that VEB and majority owner Oleg Deripaska would jointly control more than 50 percent of RusAl.

Deripaska currently holds 56.8 percent in RusAl, but his stake will be diluted to 53.39 percent after a restructuring deal with Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Group, in which the creditor plans to exchange $2 billion of RusAl’s debt for a 5.2 percent stake in the company, Vedomosti reported, citing sources close to Onexim and RusAl.

RusAl’s parent company Basic Element is planning to restructure its debt by Nov. 30, Vladimir Tatarchuk, head of Alfa Bank, BasEl’s main creditor, said Wednesday.

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