MOSCOW, June 1 - RAPSI. The Moscow Commercial Court has postponed until June 8 the preliminary hearings into two Novolipetsk Steel (NLMK) lawsuits to recover $170.4 million from Maxi-Group founder Nikolai Maximov. The lawsuits also seek to invalidate a sale and purchase agreement of Maxi-Group shares and to recover $237.76 million.

The court adjourned the hearing upon its own initiative.

On Friday, Maximov's defense attorney submitted an application to attract NLMK board member Vladimir Lisin to the case as a third party.

Earlier, the plaintiff's representatives requested to hold a legal expertise to set the value of the Maxi-Group shares as of December 3, 2007. Maximovs lawyers also submitted an application for the courts board to review the case due to its complexity.

The application remains unconsidered.

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

The court proceedings began after December 2007 when NLMK acquired a 50 percent plus one share stake in Maxi-Group, 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 done 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.