US hints at relieving pressure on Russia's RUSAL if owner sells firm

US hints at relieving pressure on Russia's RUSAL if owner sells firm
Russia's biggest aluminum producer and key global supplier RUSAL will be relieved from US sanctions if its owner Oleg Deripaska relinquishes control over the firm, according to the US Treasury.

Shares in RUSAL surged almost 15 percent on the Moscow Exchange following the news while global aluminum prices dropped almost 1 percent. The price of the metal had soared 31 percent to multi-year highs after Washington brought havoc to the market two weeks ago by cutting RUSAL from its markets. The company suffered several all-time lows over the period.

Last week, top commodity dealers in Japan asked RUSAL to stop shipments of aluminum as they could not make payments to the Russian company in US dollars at the risk of becoming a secondary sanction target by the United States.

The Treasury said Monday that “RUSAL has felt the impact of US sanctions because of its entanglement with Oleg Deripaska, but the US government is not targeting the hardworking people who depend on RUSAL and its subsidiaries.”

Moscow has said it is considering various ways to help RUSAL after the US Treasury blacklisted the company and its billionaire major shareholder Deripaska. Deripaska said the sanctions have been cover for an attack on the Russian economy.

“If it wasn’t previously clear whether RUSAL will still be sanctioned if Deripaska sells out, now we have a clear answer,” Oleg Petropavlovskiy, an analyst at BCS Global Markets, told Bloomberg. “Changing the ownership structure would be a solution.”

Last week, a German lobby for metal companies warned that sanctions against Russia's top aluminum producer are likely to hit European car production since RUSAL owns an aluminum refinery in Ireland, which is crucial for the auto industry on the continent.

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