Sanction-hit Russian aluminium oligarch resigns from board

Deripaska plans to resign from the board and cut his stake in the holding company which controls Russian aluminium giant Rusal following US sanctions

London (AFP) – Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska will resign from the board of his holding company En+ and reduce his stake to less than 50 percent following US sanctions against him and his businesses, the company said Friday.

En+, which is listed in London, owns 48 percent of Rusal, Russia’s largest aluminium producer, listed in Hong Kong.

The US government imposed sanctions on both En+ and Rusal earlier this month as part of a raft of measures that caused a stock market collapse and a plunge in the Russian ruble’s value.

The company’s stocks have soared in recent days after the US Treasury said it would consider lifting sanctions if Deripaska gives up control of the company, but it was not immediately clear whether Friday’s announcement would allow this to happen.

“Mr Deripaska has agreed with the chairman’s proposal that he will resign from the board,” En+ said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange, where the holding company is listed.

It also said he had “agreed in principle to the chairman’s request that Mr Deripaska reduce his shareholding in the Company to below 50 percent”.

US President Donald Trump on April 6 announced sanctions on Russian oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin following the diplomatic crisis sparked by the nerve agent poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain.

Washington accused Deripaska of operating for the Russian government. Other magnates hit by sanctions include the director of state-owned energy giant Gazprom, Alexei Miller.

The company lost billions of dollars from its market capitalisation on fears about its ability to service huge debt obligations.

The sanctions would stop the targeted companies from doing business in the United States or with US nationals from October 23.

However, the US Treasury said Monday it could lift the measures “through divestment and relinquishment of control of Rusal by Oleg Deripaska”.

It also said it would give companies more time to comply with the sanctions.

The sanctions have caused major volatility in world aluminium prices this month.