Bill Fleckenstein: Interest rates won''t rise until it''s too late

Section:

By John Helmer and John Fraser
Business Day, South Africa
Monday, April 26, 2004

http://www.bday.co.za/bday/content/direct/1,3523,1601500-6078-
0,00.html

Russia's Norilsk Nickel, which recently bought a 20
percent stake in Gold Fields for 7.6 billion rand, has
signalled its desire to take over the South African
company, which is the world's fourth-biggest gold
producer.

Analysts said the move would not be a surprise but
they were waiting to see the future structure of any
arrangement between Gold Fields and its Russian
investor to see what future role the SA-listed entity
would play.

Leonid Rozhetskin, the deputy chairman of Norilsk's
management committee and the chief deal maker for
controlling shareholder Vladimir Potanin, told a
session of the Russian Economic Forum in London
that the company intended to increase its Gold Fields
stake, according to RIANovosti, the state news agency.

Norilsk's purchase of 20 percent from Anglo American
was the largest offshore purchase by a Russian
company in history.

The Russian government has told Business Day it is
investigating whether the terms of the deal comply
with Russian law and central bank regulations. Fresh
news that Potanin is attempting to take over Gold
Fields, possibly by swapping his Norilsk shares for
Western-listed Gold Fields scrip, is likely to attract
heightened concern in the Kremlin at a cash-out by
the well-known oligarch.

Rozhetskin's spokesman, Sergei Polikarpov, declined
to comment, but sources close to the company said
the remark would indicate an intention to take majority
control.

One source said it was "very odd" for Rozhetskin to
telegraph a buying move to the market.

Maxim Matveyev, a metals analyst at Alfa-Bank in
Moscow, said if the Gold Fields share price did not
rise in anticipation, "theoretically 30 percent of Gold
Fields could cost Norilsk another $1.7 billion." The
balance sheet could cope with the extra debt, Matveyev
said.

A Gold Fields spokesman said at the weekend he
was not aware of any attempt by Norilsk to boost its
stake above the current 20 percent.

However, HSBC analyst Allan Cooke said such a move
would not be a shock to the markets. "I would not be
surprised if they wanted to increase their stake."

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