Uralkali's new lead shareholders stamped their mark on the
Russian fertilizer giant by replacing Vladislav Baumgertner, who presided over
the controversial split with Belorussia, as boss in favour of one of their own
Uralkali revealed that Mr Baumgertner will on Tuesday step
down in his second spell as Uralkali chief executive, which began in 2011,
during which he has overseen the integration of Russian rival Silvinit, of
which he also had a spell as chief executive, to create the world's biggest
The announcement comes three days after billionaires Mikhail
Prokhorov and Dmitry Mazepin completed purchases, through their respective
empires, of a combined 47% of Uralkali.
Mr Baumgertner will be replaced by Dmitry Osipov, a former
chief executive of Mr Mazepin's Uralchem fertilizer group.
Alexander Voloshin, the Uralkali chairman, said that was "confident"
that Mr Osipov "brings deep industry knowledge and significant senior
management expertise in the fertiliser sector".
Mr Osipov, also a former chief executive of Kirovo-Chepetsk
Chemical Plant, "is well known as a senior manager with many years of
experience working in the largest Russian chemical companies," Mr Voloshin
"The board looks forward to working with the new chief
executive to implement the next phase of Uralkali's growth for the benefit of
all its shareholders and customers."
Mr Voloshin highlighted that the change of chief executive
was "taken in connection with the recent changes in the composition of the
major shareholders of the company".
Mr Baumgertner's removal comes while he remains under house
arrest in Moscow after being extradited last month from Belorussia, where he
was held under suspicion of abusing his position as chairman of the Belarusian
Potash Company, which Uralkali quit in July, prompting a slump in potash prices.
The break-up of the cartel, with Belorussia's Belaruskali,
infuriated the Minsk government, which relies on potash for a large part of its
Indeed, the appointment of a candidate more amenable to Minsk
is seen as potentially smoothing the way to a reformation of a Belaruskali-Uralkali
tie-up, potentially bringing more price discipline to the potash market and a
rise in values.
'Comes under scrutiny'
Uralkali's new shareholders could bring a revision of the
group's decision to ditch a disciplined pricing strategy operated with Belaruskali
in favour of hiking output volumes, broker UralSib said.
"Having switched from a price-to-volume strategy, management
is sticking to its strategy of maximizing volumes, thus seeking to leverage its
low-cost-producer advantage over peers," the broker said, restating a "hold"
rating on Uralkali's London-traded depositary receipts, a proxy for shares.
"However, we do not exclude that the volume-maximisation
strategy comes under scrutiny given the change in Uralkali's shareholder
The change in ownership has also included the taking by
Chinese sovereign wealth fund CIC of a 12.5% stake.
China is the world's top potash importer.
Uralkali depositary receipts closed 0.5% higher at $26.93 in
Shares in other potash groups, many of which have struggled
with lower potash prices, did better.
Shares in Canada's PotashCorp stood 2.2% higher at Can$34.50
in afternoon deals in Toronto, while shares in Germany's K+S rose 1.6% to E21.38
in Frankfurt, and in New York, Chile's SQM added 3.1% to $24.89.