November 5, 2018 / 9:09 AM / 15 days ago

Rusal appoints CEO, third-quarter profit up as sanctions postponed

HONG KONG/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian aluminum giant Rusal (0486.HK) has appointed a chief executive, it said on Monday, after reporting a 42 percent jump in third-quarter recurring net profit on the previous quarter as sanctions imposed by Washington were postponed.

FILE PHOTO: Aluminium ingots are seen stored at the foundry shop of the Rusal Krasnoyarsk aluminium smelter in Krasnoyarsk, Russia October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin/File Photo

The U.S. Treasury Department in April blacklisted billionaire Oleg Deripaska and eight companies in which he is a large shareholder, including aluminum exporter Rusal, citing “malign activities” by Russia.

The sanctions, the toughest since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, have been postponed several times as the United States considers excluding Rusal from the U.S. blacklist if Deripaska drops his control over the company. The deadline was last extended to Dec. 12.

Rusal named Evgenii Nikitin, who has been acting chief executive since May, as CEO. Nikitin had previously headed Rusal’s aluminum division.

Rusal and its parent En+ Group (ENPLq.L) have recruited directors and management not linked to Deripaska in recent months as part of talks with Washington over easing U.S. sanctions. En+ also appointed a new CEO on Friday.

“Nikitin was independent from and not related to any other directors, members of senior management, substantial shareholders or controlling shareholders of the company,” Rusal said.

In an update to its previously proposed change of domicile from Jersey to Russia, Rusal said that its board is determined it is in the best interests of company to proceed with continuance out of Jersey subject to a number of conditions.

Recurring net profit at Hong Kong-listed Rusal was $623 million, up 43 percent from a year ago. Recurring net profit is defined as adjusted net profit plus the company’s net effective share in Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel (GMKN.MM).

“The increase in performance indicators in the third quarter of 2018 is a result of a one-off recovery effect after a significant reduction in sales volume in the second quarter of 2018 when the sanctions were announced,” a Rusal representative said.

However, the company still faced a “constant increase in production costs.” The situation remained uncertain and it was highly likely that the impact of sanctions may be materially adverse to the business, the representative added.

The sanctions roiled aluminum markets as Rusal is the world’s second-biggest producer after China’s Hongqiao (1378.HK). Japan’s top aluminum rolling company, UACJ Corp (5741.T), said on Nov. 1 that it was removing Rusal from its 2019 suppliers list due to uncertainty over the sanctions.

Prices for aluminum in London CMAL3 were up 2.2 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, Rusal said. Its primary aluminum production rose 1 percent to 940,000 tonnes, while primary aluminum and alloys sales rose 8.1 percent to 1.046 million tonnes.

Rusal’s Hong Kong-listed shares were up 3.8 percent on Monday, but are down 53 percent since sanctions were announced.

The company said third-quarter earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 23 percent year-on-year to $676 million in July-September on revenue up 19 percent to $2.92 billion. Rusal’s net debt stood at $7.5 billion at the end of September.

Reporting by Polina Devitt in MOSCOW and Donny Kwok in HONG KONG; Editing by Richard Pullin and Louise Heavens

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