Firm running Limerick's Aughinish plant 'doing all it can' to avoid sanctions

Maria Flannery

Reporter:

Maria Flannery

The company that owns Aughinish Alumina has said that it is doing everything it can to avoid being sanctioned by the US come October.

The company that owns Aughinish Alumina has said that it is doing everything it can to avoid being sanctioned by the US come October.

THE COMPANY which owns Aughinish Alumina has said that it is doing everything it can to avoid being sanctioned by the US come October.

Shareholders of UC Rusal have now elected a new board of independent directors in a bid to sweeten the US Treasury, with the ultimate aim of getting the restrictions lifted.

The sanctions are due to be enforced fully in October, unless majority owner Oleg Deripaska relinquishes his share - or at the least, brings his ownership to below 50 percent.

The Russian oligarch has already made moves to reduce his ownership, and it is expected there will be more changes at the top level of his companies, as he attempts to appease America by stepping back.

According to Rusal’s acting CEO Evgeny Nikitin, the company is doing everything it can.

“Right now, we are taking all the actions that should be required to achieve the right result for the company,” said Nikitin, according to a report in Bloomberg.

Rusal has endured months of turmoil since the US imposed the sanctions in April, as a way of targeting billionaire founder Oleg Deripaska. Aughinish Alumina, which employs 450 people with another 500 in indirect employment, was thrown into uncertainty after the sanctions were announced.

“The company, of course, has had some difficulties,” said Nikitin. “We are now in constant contact with US authorities.”

The sanctions are sure to be raised in mid-July when Russian president Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump hold their first summit.

The sanctions were announced primarily to punish Russia for “malign activity” around the globe, such as the suspicion surrounding the poisoning of a Russian spy in Britain, suspected meddling in the US elections and Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict.

The sanctions targeted a handful of Russian businesspeople, who the US Treasury Department said “benefited from” the political regime in Russia.

Aughinish owner Deripaska is known to have close ties to Vladimir Putin.

When asked if he was positive that the meeting between the country’s leaders could help Rusal, Nikitin said:

“We are businessmen not politicians, so we will leave the politics to the presidents.”

Meanwhile last month, Rusal engaged a major financial advisory group as part of its effort to free the firm from US sanctions.

Independent directors at Rusal hired Rothschild to advise on the sale of majority owner Oleg Deripaska’s stake.