Russian billionaire wants UK Supreme Court to halt former wife’s case

Russian Natalia Potanina is looking to make a £5bn claim against her former husband in London

Vladimir Potanin, billionaire and owner of OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, gestures as he speaks during an interview in London, U.K., on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017. Potanin is within a hair’s breadth of regaining his ranking as Russia’s richest tycoon this year. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

A Russian businessman reported to be worth about £22 billion ($29bn) hopes that Supreme Court justices in London will block his former wife’s bid for a payout.

Court of Appeal judges this year ruled that Natalia Potanina could make such a claim after the breakdown of her marriage to Vladimir Potanin.

Judges have heard that she could walk away with more than £5bn. The case could be the biggest of its kind in Britain.

But Mr Potanin has asked Supreme Court justices to consider the case and overturn the ruling by Court of Appeal judges.

He is waiting to hear whether justices will give him approval for a Supreme Court case.

Detail of the latest developments emerged on Tuesday when a judge oversaw a preliminary stage of the planned High Court fight.

Mr Justice Peter Francis said he was making preparations for a High Court trial. But he said Mr Potanin had asked Supreme Court justices to overturn the ruling by appeal judges.

The judge said Mr Potanin was waiting to hear whether justices would allow him to take the case to the Supreme Court.

He said Supreme Court justices could “knock the [High Court] case out of the water”.

Mr Francis said the couple had married and divorced in Russia. Lawyers representing Mr Potanin say Ms Potanina’s claim for money in England is “misconceived”.

They told Mr Francis that Ms Potanina had been awarded more than £60 million from litigation in Russia.

But her lawyers disagree and say the extent of Mr Potanin’s wealth has to be considered.

Mr Francis heard that Ms Potanina would accept a package, which included half of the value of Mr Potanin’s shares in a Russian mining operation, Norilsk Nickel.

The Bloomberg financial news service puts Mr Potanin’s worth at about £22bn and says he is president of Norilsk.

Bloomberg puts Norilsk’s value at about £34bn and says Mr Potanin owns about a third of the company.

A judge based in the Family Division of the High Court in London had originally ruled that Ms Potanina could not bring a claim in England.

Appeal judges had overturned that decision after Ms Potanina mounted a challenge.

Updated: December 7th 2021, 11:18 PM