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Russia's Norilsk to add US$400m from asset sales to dividend

[MOSCOW] Russia's Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest nickel and palladium miner, will add more than US$400 million from asset sales to its interim 2014 dividend, its deputy CEO said on Tuesday, according to RIA Novosti news agency.

Norilsk has embarked on a strategy of selling non-core assets to focus only on large, low-cost production projects.

The company, in which the firms of Russian billionaires Vladimir Potanin, Oleg Deripaska and Roman Abramovich have stakes, has vowed to return US$2 billion a year to shareholders in 2013 and 2014 including at least US$1 billion from selling assets.

The interim dividend for 2014 will include 50 per cent of the company's half-year earnings before interest, tax and depreciation (EBITDA) as well as more than US$400 million from asset sales, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Norilsk first deputy CEO Pavel Fyodorov as saying.

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Mr Potanin, the company's CEO, told Reuters in September that Norilsk would discuss with shareholders extending the schedule of the expected special dividend payment.

Norilsk's dividend payment is a big source of financial support for the indebted aluminium giant Rusal, controlled by Mr Deripaska.

On Monday, Rusal, which controls around 28 per cent of Norilsk, said via a Hong Kong exchange filing that Norilsk shareholders had agreed to put off until 2018 a US$1 billion special dividend planned for the end of 2015.