May 16, 2008 / 2:27 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Russia's Kerimov plans to sell Polymetal- report

(Rewrites with share price, analysts, background)

MOSCOW, May 16 (Reuters) - Shares of Russia’s top silver miner Polymetal PMRLq.L PMTL.MM rose sharply on Friday on a report that its majority owner planned to sell his stake.

In London, the shares had risen by 5.76 percent to $8.97 at 1320 GMT and in Moscow by 4.45 percent to 211.74 roubles ($8.88).

Vedomosti business daily on Friday quoted unnamed sources as saying billionaire Suleiman Kerimov was looking for a buyer for the 74 percent stake in Polymetal, controlled by his investment company Nafta Moskva.

Vedomosti said potential buyers included Russian businessman Alexander Nesis, who sold the stake to Kerimov at $900 million in 2005, either alone or with a partner.

Polymetal and Nesis’ investment vehicle ICT Group declined to comment.

Troika Dialog analysts said in a note on Friday that a likely bidder may be billionaire Roman Abramovich, who already has a stake in gold miner Highland Gold (HGM.L). A source close to Abramovich denied knowledge of such interest in Polymetal.

UniCredit Aton said it doubted that Russia’s government would allow a foreign investor to buy Polymetal, as the company holds a licence to develop the strategic Dukat silver deposit in the country’s far east.

Polymetal, also the world’s fifth-largest silver producer, was valued at $2.4 billion in a share listing on the London Stock Exchange in February last year. (Reporting by Polina Devitt)

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