UPDATE 1-Russia's Uralkali elects Putin ally to its board
Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:36am EDT
* Chemezov was nominated by Prokhorov's investment vehicle
* May become the board chairman in the nearest time (Adds details, context)
MOSCOW, March 24 (Reuters) - The head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, joined Uralkali's board of directors on Monday, Uralkali said, signalling greater government influence in the world's largest potash producer.
Chemezov, a powerful ally of President Vladimir Putin, was nominated in February and may become Uralkali's board chairman.
The new board of nine directors was elected on Monday by Uralkali shareholders, which include Russian tycoon-turned-politician Mikhail Prokhorov, businessman Dmitry Mazepin's Uralchem and a subsidiary of China Investment Corp (CIC).
The board is due to elect a new chairman "in the nearest time", the company said in a statement.
Chemezov, Putin's colleague during his posting with the KGB security service in East Germany in the 1980s, has built up a state-owned empire that includes the world's biggest titanium maker, Russia's largest carmaker and one of the world's biggest arms exporters.
He was nominated by Prokhorov's investment vehicle Onexim because "he commands authority in the world and in Russia and has relevant experience, which are crucial for the company following all the drama last year", Onexim said on March 5.
A representative of CIC subsidiary Chengdong Investment Corp, which holds 12.5 percent of Uralkali shares, has also joined the board, Uralkali added. The representative Chen Jian is a CIC non-executive director.
After Uralkali left a joint trading venture with Belarus last year, potash markets plunged and the Russian company found itself at the centre of a political row with Belarus, which eventually led to a change in its shareholders.
Alexander Voloshin, a former Kremlin chief of staff, was Uralkali board chairman before Monday's election. (Reporting by Polina Devitt; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)