Miner Petropavlovsk's biggest shareholder outlines his case for change

LONDON, June 21 (Reuters) – Russian miner Petropavlovsk's largest shareholder, who is calling for an overhaul of the board, has written to fellow shareholders, setting out plans to sell the company's stake in an iron ore unit and to draw up deal targets in the gold sector.

The company holds its annual general meeting in London on June 29, when, only a year after the previous board was toppled, shareholders will be asked to vote on another board change following proposals by activist shareholders.

Kazakh entrepreneur Kenges Rakishev controls 22 percent of shareholder votes through his company Fincraft. He says he is nothing to do with the activists named as CABS Platform and Slevin limited, which hold just over 9 percent, but largely agrees with their demands.

Rakishev says the new management would immediately get involved with a project named the pressure oxidation hub (POX) to allow the treatment of refractory gold ore that is difficult to process using traditional methods. He says he intends to remain a long-term investor in the company.

For the longer term, the letter says there are opportunities in "undervalued gold assets in both Russia and Central Asia" and Petropavlovsk should begin to prepare a pipeline and preliminary analysis of targets as soon as possible.

The existing board has reacted vigorously to the pressure. It says further upheaval would be damaging, the board is working to bring on the POX project later this year and must focus on strengthening the balance sheet before expansion.

It has asked British regulators to investigate the identity of the activist shareholders.

Former CEO Pavel Maslovskiy, whom both the activists and Rakishev want to return, resigned last July after his co-founder Peter Hambro was voted off the board in June 2017.

Roman Deniskin was appointed as CEO in April this year. Only weeks later the activist shareholders began demanding change. He will give a webcast question and answer session on Friday.

He told Reuters he met Rakishev in January, had "engaged with him on several occasions" and recent requests for meetings did not receive a response.

(By Barbara Lewis and Dasha Afanasieva; Editing by David Evans)