MOSCOW (Reuters) - Rusal’s exports and finances will take another hit if Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska is unable to persuade Washington to lift sanctions on the aluminum producer by late August, three industry sources said.
The U.S. Treasury Department put Deripaska and Rusal, which he controls, on a sanctions blacklist in April, a move that froze the bulk of the company’s exports, paralyzed its supply chain and scared off many customers.
Under the sanctions, U.S. customers have until Oct. 23 to wind down business with Rusal. As some orders can take up to two months to process and deliver to customers, particularly for value-added aluminum products, the sources said many customers will start to shun the company from August.
The U.S. Treasury had initially set a deadline of June 5 but in late April it extended it to Oct. 23 and also said it would consider lifting sanctions if Deripaska ceded control of the company.
“(Deripaska’s team) are spending day and night in consultations with OFAC (the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control), and are ready to comply with all their demands in order to be removed from the sanctions list,” a financial market source said.
OFAC oversees U.S. sanctions imposed on foreign companies.
For Rusal’s exports of primary aluminum, which is readily available, the Oct. 23 deadline is not so pressing as for value-added products because primary aluminum can be shipped from St Petersburg to Baltimore, for example, within three weeks.
The industry sources said U.S. sanctions may also bar Rusal from receiving a dividend, due in August, from Norilsk Nickel. As Rusal holds a 27.8 percent stake in Norilsk, OFAC could treat the dividend as a significant transaction and require that it is paid into a blocked or escrow account, they said.
Rusal is counting on the payment to help shore up its cash position.
Deripaska controls 66 percent of En+ Group, which in turn controls 48 percent of Rusal. He has already accepted the need to cede control of En+ if both En+ and Rusal are to survive, a source familiar with discussions said previously.
One option currently under consideration is the creation of a blind trust, which would be run by independent administrators and into which Deripaska could park some of his En+ shares, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Another option would be for En+ to purchase part of Deripaska’s stake in En+, sources told Reuters in late May.
En+ Chairman Greg Barker said recently that the company needed to come up with a plan by the middle of the summer to meet U.S. requirements to avoid sanctions. He did not provide details about the options to do this.
Rusal declined to comment.
Reporting by Polina Devitt, Dmitry Zhdannikov, Pratima Desai, Tatiana Voronova and Oksana Kobzeva; Editing by Susan Fenton