April 12, 2018 / 2:05 PM / 9 months ago

Sulzer may keep Vekselberg shares for years after dodging sanctions

ZURICH (Reuters) - Sulzer could hang on to the shares it has bought back from main shareholder and Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg for years following its deal to escape U.S. sanctions, Chief Executive Greg Poux-Guillaume told Reuters on Thursday.

Poux-Guillaume said Vekselberg’s Renova group will keep its stake below 50 percent to comply with U.S. regulations.

He did not see the Swiss engineering group as an example to others controlled by Russian shareholders also facing the U.S. crackdown and had not been contacted by any such companies.

“We are not going to destroy the shares. The whole point is to keep Renova below 50 percent and if we did that Renova would go back up,” Poux-Guillaume said in an interview.

“We will push the shares back into the market when the timing is right and when the price is right. We have no timeline on this, we have no deadline and we have no downside,” he said, noting Renova would make up any losses Sulzer took on the shares.

“Renova is essentially footing the bill at this point and we have 180 days to actually raise the money” to finance the share purchase, he added.

The pumpmaker said earlier that it was free of U.S. sanctions after authorities approved its buyback of shares that has reduced Vekselberg’s stake to less than half.

Its stock, which had tumbled by a fifth on the sanctions news, rebounded 15 percent in early trading and was up 10 percent by midday.

Reporting by John Revill and John Miller, Editing by Michael Shields

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