* Rusal repays part of debt from free cash flow
* Rusal shareholders vote against H1 dividend
MOSCOW, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Russia's Rusal has
repaid 27 billion roubles ($371 million) of debt to Russia's
largest lender Sberbank ahead of schedule, the
aluminium giant said in a statement on Friday, as its
shareholders voted against a first-half dividend payment.
Rusal, the world's third largest aluminium producer behind
China's Chinalco and Hongqiao, has increased its focus
on reducing its total debt, which was $7.9 billion at the end of
June, and also wants to modernise its assets.
That coincides with President Vladimir Putin's call for
Russian exporters to invest more at home to help the
coronavirus-hit economy. The government raised taxes on exports
of aluminium and other metals.
Rusal still owes Sberbank $2.1 billion and 79.5 billion
roubles as part of the loan, which is due at the end of 2027 and
is secured against part of Rusal's 25.5% stake in metals miner
Nornickel, it said.
The early payment was made in August from Rusal's free cash
flow, a substantial part of which was contributed by Nornickel's
dividend payments to Rusal, the aluminium producer added.
Aluminium prices are strong, but Rusal has been
cautious about its prospects for 2021 due to rising Russian
taxes and instability in Guinea, where 42% of Rusal's bauxite
capacity, needed for aluminium production, is based.
Shareholders at Rusal, which last paid a dividend for 2017,
voted against a first-half payment on Sept 9, despite a call for
support by Sual Partners, which owns a 25.6% stake in Rusal and
has been sceptical about Rusal's plan to demerge higher carbon
Sual, owned by Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg and his
partners, failed to find enough support among other
shareholders. The results of the vote showed on Friday that 62%
of the votes at the meeting were against the dividend.
($1 = 72.7300 roubles)
(Reporting by Polina Devitt and Anastasia Lyrchikova; editing
by Elaine Hardcastle)