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Norilsk Nickel board approves Denis Morozov as company head-1

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MOSCOW, March 16 (RIA Novosti) - The board of Norilsk Nickel has approved Denis Morozov as a new general director of the world's largest nickel producer, the company said Friday.

Morozov, who was a deputy general director of Norilsk Nickel and is a board member of Polyus Zoloto gold producer, will replace billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who resigned from the posts of general director and president of Norilsk Nickel Thursday.

The metals giant's news release said Thursday Prokhorov presented Morozov, to the board of directors as a replacement candidate.

In late January Prokhorov, ranked Russia's 10th richest man by Forbes, announced that he would sell his 27.4% stake in the world's largest nickel producer to Interros co-owner and business partner Vladimir Potanin, and resign as Norilsk Nickel's director general.

Prokhorov said earlier he had decided to consolidate his energy assets, developing both traditional and alternative energy sources.

Prokhrov said Thursday he was resigning earlier than expected "as it is clear that occupying executive posts in Norilsk Nickel, while forming a new business.... is impossible, since it will naturally result in a conflict of interests."

Prokhorov retains shares in other Interros assets - Polyus Zoloto gold producer, Rosbank, Prof-Media holding, Open Investment, and Russia's largest engineering company Power Machines - and intends to manage them through a new investment vehicle.

Norilsk Nickel is one of the world's largest precious and non-ferrous metal producers, accounting for more than 20% of the world's nickel output, and over 10% of cobalt and 3% of copper. The company produces 96% of Russia's nickel, 55% of its copper and 95% of its cobalt.

In 2006, Norilsk Nickel produced 3.164 million ounces (98.4 metric tons) of palladium, compared with 3.133 million ounces (97.4 metric tons) in 2005, and 752,000 ounces (23.4 metric tons) of platinum, compared with 751,000 ounces in 2005.

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