Russia’s En+ invites banks to pitch for $1bn share sale

*Russia’s En+ Group has invited international banks to pitch for the sale of $1bn of shares in the company that manages the aluminium and hydropower businesses of Russian businessmen Oleg Deripaska, three sources said. The inclusion of Deripaska on a US list of Russian oligarchs published on January 29, however, is making some US banks who worked with En+ on its initial public offering (IPO) in November wary about participating this time, one of the sources said.

The source, whose institution has been asked to pitch for the new business, said while there was no suggestion advising on the share sale would attract US fines, compliance departments were concerned about any risk of reputational damage. “Banks don’t want headlines. Client selection is a massive issue,” said the banking source.

The US Treasury has said the report, which also includes lists of senior political figures and the heads of state-run companies, was not a sanctions list. A spokesman for En+ declined to comment on the planned share sale or whether US banks might be reluctant to work with the company because of the US list. A spokeswoman for Deripaska said: “We do not comment on market rumours.” Deripaska and family members own 76.6% of En+, which has assets in metals and energy, including a 48% controlling stake in Hong Kong-listed Russian aluminium producer Rusal.

When En+ listed in London, US institutions Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi and JP Morgan, along with Swiss bank Credit Suisse and Russian banks Sberbank and VTB Capital led the float. The $1.5bn IPO was the first major listing in London by a Russian company since 2014, when Russia’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula triggered Western sanctions against Moscow. Since the IPO, Deripaska and another 95 Russians worth more than $1bn were named in a report the US Treasury Department was required by Congress to compile as part of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). “The inclusion of individuals or entities in this report, its appendices, or its classified annex does not, in and of itself, imply, give rise to, or create any restrictions, prohibitions, or limitations on dealings with such persons by either US or foreign persons,” the US Treasury said on its website. However, several businessmen on the list said Russian companies may start having problems in their dealings with international banks because of the report.

Deripaska was ranked by Forbes magazine yesterday as Russia’s 20th richest man, with a net worth of $6.7bn. The industrial assets that form the core of his wealth were acquired during the chaotic sell-off of Russian state assets in the 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Along with En+, Deripaska also controls Russian light vehicle maker GAZ and has agriculture, airport and other businesses. One of the sources said the planned share sale by En+ was expected to happen after Russia’s presidential election in March, which incumbent Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win.

It was not immediately clear why En+ wanted to sell shares or whether the offering would be of new or existing shares. Before the November listing of shares in London and Moscow, the company’s net debt was $13.1bn. It reduced that by repaying a $943mn loan to VTB, Russia’s second-largest lender, following the listing. In December, En+ said its third-quarter net profit rose 43% to $350mn helped by higher aluminium prices.

Sources and photo-credits: Reuters, Gulf times