March 14, 2012 / 1:31 AM / 5 years ago

RUSAL shares open lower after chairman steps down

HONG KONG, March 14 (Reuters) - Shares of United Company RUSAL Plc, the world's largest aluminium producer, were down 3.3 percent at the start of trading on Wednesday after its billionaire chairman quit, saying the heavily indebted company was in crisis after a long battle with rival oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Viktor Vekselberg's resignation widens a rift with controlling shareholder Deripaska, who had sought to build a Russian metals and mining business on a global scale by merging RUSAL with Norilsk Nickel, the world's top nickel and palladium miner.

RUSAL's stock, which was suspended on Tuesday after falling 1.3 percent, fell more than 3 percent to HK$5.92, lagging a 1 percent rise in the benchmark Hong Kong index.

RUSAL's shares are now 45 per cent below their initial public offer price of HK$10.80.

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