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UC RusAl to launch aluminum plant in Nigeria in February

Alscon, a smelter in south Nigeria owned by Russia’s aluminum giant UC RusAl, will resume operations within a month, a RusAl senior official said on Thursday.

“We want to launch the Alscon plant in Nigeria within a month,” said Alexander Livshits, the aluminum giant’s director for international projects. He predicted that global aluminum output will rise at an annual rate of 7-8% over the next few years. RusAl closed a deal to acquire a majority stake in Alscon (Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria) in February 2007, receiving a 77.5% share in a 193,000-ton smelter, a port on the Imo River and a power-generating station. Germany’s Ferrostaal AG and the government of Nigeria remain minority shareholders with 7.5% and 15% blocks respectively.
Alscon, based in Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom State, produced its first metal in 1997, but was brought to a standstill in 2000, caused by high production costs, inadequate gas supply, and a lack of working capital. RusAl says that once the smelter goes online, it will create 1,900 local jobs and 90% of the employees will be Nigerian citizens. Additionally, 20,000 jobs will be created through infrastructural projects, resulting in higher living standards for Akwa Ibom state residents.

Russia’s anti-monopoly competition office said on Thursday it had allowed UC RusAl to buy a stake of 29% plus 1 voting share in Norilsk Nickel. RusAl filed a bid to buy the stake in the world’s largest nickel producer on December 19, 2007. The banks ABN AMRO, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and Merrill Lynch launched on Wednesday syndication of a $4.5 billion loan for RusAl so that the aluminum giant could buy 25% plus 1 voting share from billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Group. Prokhorov and his former business partner Mikhail Potanin, the two major owners of Norilsk Nickel, are currently dividing the business. Prokhorov holds a 28.2% in the company, and Potanin owns another 25.3%. Each of the two businessmen owns 4% in the company through KM Invest.

Aluminum giant UC RusAl, controlled by Oleg Deripaska’s Basic Element, became the world’s largest aluminum producer after a March merger between RusAl, rival Sual and Swiss Glencore’s alumina assets. (