May 2, 2018 / 7:30 PM / a year ago

Chairman of En+ says working on reducing Deripaska's stake

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The chairman of En+ Group (ENPLq.L) said on Wednesday he was working on implementing a plan that En+ hopes will lead to the United States lifting sanctions on the company, the biggest shareholder in aluminium giant Rusal (0486.HK).

FILE PHOTO: Oleg Deripaska, then president of En+ Group, attends a ceremony with the Krasnoyarsk region's government in Moscow, Russia December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo

Greg Barker welcomed a decision by the U.S. Treasury on Tuesday to give investors an extra month to divest or transfer their holdings in En+ Group and other sanctions targets.

Washington last month imposed sanctions on Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska and several companies in which he is a large shareholder, including Rusal and En+, in response to what the United States called Russia’s “malign activities.”

Deripaska’s En+ Group holds his 48 percent stake in Rusal, Russia’s largest aluminium producer.

Deripaska has since made efforts to distance himself from the companies, and agreed last week to lower his stake in En+ Group to less than 50 percent, after the United States said it could lift company sanctions if the billionaire ceded control.

“In my capacity as independent chairman, I reached an agreement in principle with Oleg Deripaska on 26 April 2018 that in order for sanctions to be removed he would reduce his shareholding below 50 percent and relinquish control of the Board,” Barker said in a statement.

“In light of this very welcomed licence extension, I am now actively seeking to put the details of that plan into place,” said Barker, a former British energy minister.

The London Stock Exchange said it would no longer suspend trading in En+ GDRs on Wednesday, minutes before the planned suspension was supposed to take place, following the U.S. Treasury Department’s decision.

“Suspension of trading will now take place from 17:15 (end of trade reporting) on Friday 1 June 2018 (if there are no further timing changes),” the Exchange said.

The U.S. Treasury’s decision boosted En+ Group’s rouble-based shares (ENPLDR.MM) on Wednesday.

En+ shares rose 1.7 percent on the Moscow exchange on Wednesday, while Rusal shares (0486.HK) rose 8.3 percent.

Reporting by Polina Ivanova; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Adrian Croft

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