March 14, 2012 / 3:07 AM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-RUSAL's shares slide after chairman steps down

* Stock will stay under pressure “until row resolved”

* Shares down 46 percent from January 2010 IPO price

* Board to discuss chairman’s resignation on Friday

HONG KONG, March 14 (Reuters) - Shares of United Company RUSAL Plc, the world’s largest aluminium producer, fell as much as 5.7 percent on Wednesday after its billionaire chairman quit, saying the heavily indebted company was in crisis after a long battle with rival oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

The dispute reinforced investors’ belief that RUSAL is a company that does not place high importance on minority shareholders, said Robin Tsui, an analyst at BOC International.

“If the chairman resigned it means RUSAL is like a one-man show, even the chairman can’t really have a say in the company,” he said.

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.

The company will hold a meeting to discuss the resignation of the chairman on Friday.

RUSAL’s stock, which was suspended on Tuesday, hit a session low of HK$5.77 before rebounding slightly to HK$5.86, down 4.3 percent, lagging a 1 percent rise in the benchmark Hong Kong index.

RUSAL’s shares are now 46 percent below their initial public offer price of HK$10.80.

“The overhang is going to be in place until the whole issue is resolved,” Tsui said.

Investors knew about RUSAL’s high debt and high interest position and the main driver for the company was the price of aluminium going forward, analysts said.

The global aluminium industry is suffering a supply glut on the back of a deepening European debt crisis and global economic slowdown which hurt demand and prices for the lightweight metal, pushing many producers into the red and triggering a round of output cuts, including at top U.S. aluminium maker Alcoa

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