Deal to save Rusal leaves billionaire Deripaska out in the cold

  • Business
  • Monday, 01 Apr 2019

MOSCOW: A deal that convinced the United States to lift sanctions on companies linked to Oleg Deripaska may have helped restore order to the global aluminum market, but it’s left the Russian billionaire himself increasingly isolated.

Executives and board members at United Co Rusal and parent En+ Group Plc now avoid communicating directly with their biggest shareholder, who remains under personal sanctions, according to sources.

Deripaska has been missing from the splashy VIP events he’d previously frequented and even fellow billionaire Vladimir Potanin says his rival’s absence is being felt.

It’s almost a year to the day since the United States announced sanctions on Deripaska and his businesses, throwing their operations and the global aluminum market into turmoil. Following almost eight months of talks and furious lobbying, and after Deripaska agreed to reduce his ownership and relinquish control over the companies, the Treasury removed Rusal and En+ from the restricted list in late January.

Since then, Deripaska has remained largely out of sight. He didn’t attend President Vladimir Putin’s state-of-the nation speech in February and was absent from an annual meeting in March between the president and big business, arranged by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. He’s likely to skip the St Petersburg economic forum in June again this year, according to sources.

Even En+ chairman Greg Barker, the British lord who spearheaded the lobbying push, says he hasn’t spoken to Deripaska since the sanctions were lifted. The tycoon’s relationship with the companies is now “very constrained,” Barker said this week at the FT Global Commodities Summit in Lausanne.

“If he knew at the very beginning just how far he would have to go by the end, I’d question whether or not he would have started out on the journey,” he said.

En+, Rusal and Deripaska are ensuring that the agreement with the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is fully adhered to, a spokeswoman said. — Bloomberg

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