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Sherritt’s logo pictured during their annual general meeting in Toronto, May 24, 2007.J.P. Moczulski/Reuters

Sherritt International Corp.'s chief executive said his company will not make a nickel acquisition this year, and is focused on fixing its balance sheet.

"We won't be doing anything this year. Right now our priorities are getting our balance sheet in shape and paying down some debt," Sherritt CEO David Pathe said in an interview.

"Bankers come and show us stuff all the time, so we are keeping track of what's going on out there. But there is nothing that we are actively pursuing at this time," he said.

After Sherritt sold its coal assets for nearly $1-billion last year, Mr. Pathe had said some of the proceeds could be used for a nickel acquisition.

That angered some of Sherritt's more vocal shareholders, who launched a proxy fight and tried to unseat Mr. Pathe. The dissident shareholders failed to garner enough support to shake up the Canadian company's board, and Mr. Pathe as well as Sherritt's chairman vowed to communicate more with shareholders.

Some of the proceeds from the sale have been used to pay down Sherritt's coal credit facility. Mr. Pathe said the rest would be used to strengthen its balance sheet, and to possibly make an acquisition some time in the distant future.

Sherritt operates energy assets in Cuba and is ramping up its large Ambatovy nickel mine in Madagascar.

Mr. Pathe told the Globe that, once Sherritt was satisfied with the Madagascar mine, his company would consider making a move for an asset.

When asked about market rumours that Sherritt was looking at BHP Billiton Ltd.'s Nickel West assets in Australia, Mr.Pathe said: "Don't believe everything you read on the internet."

"We are not currently looking at Nickel West," he said.

Mr. Pathe said if Sherritt were to make an acquisition, it would have to be an asset that was either already in production, or close to production.

"I still don't have any appetite to take on another multi-billion-dollar greenfield project at this point and time," he said.

The company reported a wider second quarter loss on Wednesday due in part to costs associated with Ambatovy.

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