THE BILLIONAIRE Russian owner of Aughinish Alumina’s parent company, Rusal, has no plans to let go of the company, despite the fact that the US has said that sanctions would be eased if he sold his share.
Oleg Deripaska is instead relying on European governments, including Ireland’s, to lobby on the company’s behalf to exempt Rusal from the sanctions list.
In the last week, Deripaska has reshuffled top managers within the company, who will focus their attention on the sanctions. The oligarch plans to be directly involved in the situation, according to a Bloomberg report.
“The billionaire’s resistance to relinquishing control of Rusal sets up the prospect of a standoff between Rusal and the US, with the European aluminum industry warning there will be further chaos if the situation isn’t resolved before a wind down period expires,” reads the report.
There was relief in the global markets earlier this week, when the US announced that the deadline for companies to continue dealing with Rusal was extended to October.
Deripaska’s company En+ currently owns 48 percent of Rusal.
Earlier in the week, the US Treasury Department said it may consider lifting sanctions on the company, which it targeted earlier in April, if Deripaska relinquishes control and sells his stake in the group.
Aughinish and its hundreds of employees have been caught up in an economic storm since the US imposed sanctions on Rusal, with Deripaska seen as having close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Seven oligarchs and their companies were sanctioned in response to Russia’s “malign activity” around the globe. But the US Office of Foreign Assets Control has said that Deripaska was specifically targeted for several reasons, including “threatening the lives of business rivals, bribing government officials and having links to organized crime”, reports Bloomberg.
With 450 employees at the plant in Askeaton and around 400 working on contracts, the plant is one of the biggest employers in County Limerick.