MOSCOW (Reuters) – The U.S. decision to lift sanctions on Russia’s Rusal (0486.HK), the world’s top aluminium producer outside China, is widely seen as a Christmas present for the company, global consumers of its metal, and the Russian stock market.
But its co-owner and founder Oleg Deripaska will have mixed feelings, as the deal means giving up control of his prized aluminium empire and then seeing it return to business as usual while he remains blacklisted alongside drug lords.
It’s a challenge for Deripaska, once Russia’s richest man, as he has never before sold a major asset. He started building his empire during the 1990s “aluminium wars” after the collapse of the Soviet Union, waging several battles with rivals.
Now he has to reduce his share in En+ Group (ENPLq.L) to less than 45 percent from 70 percent, with no compensation. En+, which manages a stake in Rusal along with Deripaska’s power assets, had a market value of $8 billion a year ago but that has fallen to around $3 billion (2.37 billion pounds). His property will stay blocked.
“He is not selling, he is giving away,” said an industry source who knows Deripaska. Deripaska agreed a deal with the U.S. Treasury Department within eight months to lift sanctions – a short time for a process that could have lasted years, the source said.