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Russian Metals Giant Buy Back Shares

Norilsk said the company's main owners had tendered some of their shares

Russian biggest nickel and platinum producer Norilsk Nickel said that would pay 20 billion rubles ($698 million) to buy about 5 percent of its own shares from shareholders who had agreed to sell them at a discount.

Norilsk said the company?s main owners had tendered some of their shares. ?Some companies controlled by the Interros group have sold part of their stakes,? Denis Morozov, Norilsk?s deputy general director, told the Reuters agency.

Last month, Norilsk announced a plan to buy out minority shareholders who did not support its plan to spin off gold unit Polyus or abstained from voting. The company offered to buy the shares for 1,855 rubles ($64.72) a share, which is a substantial discount to its current market share price of around $87. Norilsk said then it did not expect much interest in the offer, as shareholders could have sold their stock on the market. But on Thursday it said in a statement that holders of about 10.8 million shares, equal to around five percent of the company?s charter capital had accepted the offer, and Norilsk will honor its obligation.

An analyst said that the main owners of Norilsk shares ? Chief Executive Mikhail Prokhorov and Vladimir Potanin, parent company InterRos Holding's head ? could have sold shares to make a quick profit.