MOSCOW, May 25 - RAPSI. The Moscow Commercial Court has suspended until June 1 its hearing of two claims filed by Novolipetsk Steel (NLMK) against Maxi-Group founder Nikolai Maximov, the court told the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI).

One lawsuit seeks 5.392 billion rubles ($170.4 million) from Nikolai Maximov, while the other aims to invalidate the Maxi-Group shares purchase contract and recoup the 7.3 billion rubles ($230.8 million) that NLMK paid to the company.

The court has postponed hearings to allow the defendant to prepare its case.

The court earlier combined two lawsuits into a single proceeding upon Maximov's request.

NLMK also asked the court to transfer the Maxi-Group shares to the federal budget in case of a favorable judgment. The steel manufacturer also seeks to recover 61 million rubles in damages.

Maxi-Group has been involved in the case as a third party.

Court proceedings began after December 2007 when NLMK acquired a 50 percent plus one share stake in the Maxi-Group company, which comprised a number of businesses. Both parties later filed lawsuits regarding the price of the deal.

The share price was to be calculated after the financial and legal examination of the Maxi-Group companies. Maximov was given an advance payment of 7.3 billion rubles ($237.76 million).

The parties have made no joint calculations so far and have made all their estimations separately. In a previous statement, Maximov said the portfolio that he sold was worth 23 billion rubles ($749.13 million).

In turn, NLMK said the company was misled by Maximov, as he withheld information about Maxi-Group's debt and looming bankruptcy. The steel company said Maxi-Group was actually insolvent at the time of the purchase.

NLMK is one of the world's largest steel producers. Vladimir Lisin is its primary beneficiary with a 84.6 percent stake in the company. Some 2.5 percent of the shares belong to the company's management. Another 12.89 percent of the shares are in free float, with 8.45 percent of them being GDR shares floating on the London Stock Exchange.