Voloshin Joins Norilsk Board

Various analysts have been predicting over the fall that the economic crisis would provide the Russian government with an opportunity to gradually take over the crown jewel of mining, Norilsk Nickel.  Today’s appointment of Alexander Voloshin, a Kremlin insider and alleged proxy of the executive, looks like a step in that direction.  This measure is consistent with the trend of increasing state participation in the economy, despite Dmirty Medvedev’s statements to the contrary.

From the Associated Press:

“There are no representatives of the state on the board,” Voloshin said after his appointment, but added that “the successful development of Norilsk Nickel will benefit my dear country.”

Voloshin brings to the post a wealth of government experience and connections. He served as former President Boris Yeltsin’s chief of staff, a job he retained for several years under Yeltsin’s successor, Vladimir Putin. One of his deputies under Putin was Dmitry Medvedev, the current president. (…)

The global financial crisis, which has hitRussian stocks particularly hard, forced the shareholders to set asidetheir differences, Potanin said. Norilsk’s shares have plummeted morethan 65 percent since the beginning of the year, and investors havecriticized the company for failing to overcome the management crisis.

Norilsk general director Vladimir Strzhalkovsky warned on Friday that things could get worse.

“A further decline in metal prices will take a great toll on the company’s performance,” he said.

Voloshinhad been expected to compete for the post against Sergei Chemezov, thedirector of the state holding Russian Technologies, but Chemezov pulledout of the running earlier Friday.