Lord Gillford to fight for seat on Polyus board

Lord Patrick Gillford, an independent director on the board of Polyus Gold, Russia's leading goldminer, has appealed for shareholder backing in a bid for reelection to the board, when shareholders meet for the company AGM on June 26.

Gillford was ousted this week from the new slate, approved by Mikhail Prokhorov and Polyus Gold chief executive, Evgeny Ivanov.

The free float is around 30%.

Gillford has publicly accused Prokhorov and Ivanov of planning a "carve-out", a scheme for transferring valuable exploration and gold prospecting licences out of the parent Polyus Gold, and into an offshore vehicle they control. Ivanov retaliated, accusing Gillford of lacking independence, and siding with Potanin. Gillford sent a letter to board members, before their meeting on May 21, defending his independence.

This week Prokhorov and Ivanov got the board to vote in favour of their candidate as a new independent on the 9-man board, Christophe Charlier. Charlier's independence is challenged by Gillford and by Moscow sources, who knew him when he worked for Prokhorov at Norilsk Nickel in 2002-2004. Charlier was also close to Dmitry Razumov, who now heads Prokhorov's holdin, Onexim.

A shareholder contest over the independent directorship of a Russian company is unprecedented. The infighting over the future of Polyus Gold has also triggered gyrations in the company's share price, which in a week of trading has gone from $59 to $80 and back to the low $60's.

Background on the board meeting: