Is Norilsk Nickel too big to sanction? – by Henry Foy and Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – April 19, 2018)

Is Norilsk Nickel too big to sanction? That is a question on the lips of investors and analysts as they ponder which companies might be next on the White House’s Russian sanctions list.

The company, based in the world’s most northern city that gives the group its name, certainly thinks size might be a key factor in deterring US president Donald Trump from placing one of the biggest metal producers on the list.

Like the large banks in the financial crisis deemed too big to fail, the company may be right in thinking that size matters as its nickel and palladium supplies are crucial to western manufacturers for products from cars to batteries.

With 40 per cent of world output in palladium and vast exports that make it a global force as well as one of Russia’s most important companies, chief operating officer Sergey Dyachenko says there is no reason to think Mr Trump is about to target the group.

“People will have to think hard about where they will get metal from,” says Mr Dyachenko, whose company grew out of one of the most infamous of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s network of Gulag labour camps before becoming a private business.

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