May 24, 2018 / 3:07 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Polyus expects 2018 gold output at top of forecast range

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ST PETERSBURG, May 24 (Reuters) - Polyus, Russia's largest gold producer, said on Thursday 2018 production was likely to be at the upper end of its forecast range of 2.375-2.425 million troy ounces.

Chief Executive Pavel Grachev said on the sidelines of the St Petersburg economic forum that 2018 capital expenditure would be slightly below an initially planned $850 million because Polyus was ramping up its Natalka gold mine ahead of schedule.

Polyus said previously it believes that its stock was undervalued due to a number of risks, including geopolitics.

The gold miner has also said it could consider increasing its free float to 25-30 percent, from 16 percent, in the mid- to long-term, but Grachev said any potential increase or share placement will depend on its internal situation and external market conditions.

"They (market conditions) are not the best now. There is no rush, there is no pressure on the company (to sell shares)."

He also said that he favours a London listing and believes that it is the most obvious addition to the local listing.

Polyus has not been targeted by the U.S. sanctions. However, Washington included Suleiman Kerimov along with some other Russian businessmen on the SDN list in April. Said Kerimov, who is the son of Suleiman Kerimov, controls the company.

"The company is not under sanctions," Grachev said. However "it doesn't rule out the emotional effect which these events had on the Russian market and the company in general."

"We do not see any other remedy except time which will bring clarity," he said, adding Polyus was in contact with investors.

It had taken some suppliers, customers and bankers several days or weeks to conduct additional due-diligence on Polyus after Suleiman Kerimov was hit with sanctions, he said.

But the process had gone well and U.S. investment bank JP Morgan had led its convertible bond buyback in April. (Reporting by Polina Devitt and Christian Lowe Editing by Alexander Smith)

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