April 27, 2018 / 9:35 AM / 3 months ago

Exclusive: Rusal to change board in bid to persuade U.S. to lift sanctions - sources

MOSCOW/LONDON (Reuters) - Russia’s Rusal will overhaul its board and management in the hope the United States will remove the aluminium firm from a sanctions list so it can restart shipments to its customers around the world, two sources told Reuters.

Aluminium ingots are seen stored at the foundry shop of the Rusal Krasnoyarsk aluminium smelter in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin/Files

The sources, familiar with the developments but who asked not to be identified because they are not allowed to speak publicly, said Rusal would soon appoint a fully independent board that in turn would install a new management team.

“Rusal is in touch with U.S. authorities and hopes the measure will be enough for them to be removed from the sanctions list,” one of the sources said. Rusal declined to comment.

The United States this month imposed sanctions against billionaire Oleg Deripaska and the eight companies in which he is a large shareholder, including Rusal, in response to what the United States called “malign activities” by Russia.

By adding Deripaska’s businesses to its Specially Designated Nationals blacklist – the first time Washington had done so with a publicly listed Russian firm - the United States effectively choked off their access to the international financial system.

Rusal, the largest part of Deripaska’s empire and the world’s second-biggest aluminium producer, has seen customers stop buying its aluminium and creditors scramble to offload debt.

An employee removes a covering of 13-metre aluminium ingots weighing 34 tons (74,957 pounds) at the foundry shop of the Rusal Krasnoyarsk aluminium smelter in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, July 27, 2016. Picture taken July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin/Files

Hong Kong-listed Rusal lost almost 60 percent of its share value after the introduction of sanctions, while aluminium and alumina prices soared, hitting businesses around the world, including in the United States.

Earlier this week, the United States moved to ease some of the measures against Rusal, saying it did not want to hit companies around the globe and that it could remove Rusal from the list if Deripaska ceded control.

The two sources added that Rusal hoped Deripaska could keep his stake in the firm at the current 48 percent under any arrangement with U.S. authorities.

“Forty-eight percent is not a controlling stake of 50 percent, which under the U.S. rules triggers the sanctions,” one of the sources said.

The source added that Rusal was still not shipping to customers around the world as it awaited guidance from U.S. authorities.

“Rusal needs clarity from OFAC before it can resume those shipments,” the source said, referring to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury, which enforces economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals.

Aluminium prices in London fell nearly 2 percent on the news to a low of $2,237 per tonne.

A worker walks through an aluminium ingots depot in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, China September 26, 2012. REUTERS/Aly Song/Files

Reporting by Polina Devitt and Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Dale Hudson and Jason Neely

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