Oleg Deripaska is not shy about putting Russian employees in the cold, while continuing to invest in foreign assets?
Against the background of rumors about a possible nomination for the Presidency of Russia, the scandalous oligarch Oleg Deripaska stunned his own employees: Rusal may freeze or close a number of enterprises due to a worsening economic situation and rising taxes. In the 90s, they said about this: they did not fit into the market.
But the foreign production of the oligarch fit perfectly into the market, especially in Africa - the entrepreneur does not plan to put the employees there outside the doors and reduce investments, despite the protest moods of the residents there. Africa is everything, Russia is nothing?
We are talking about the Kandalaksha, Volgograd and Novokuznetsk plants. According to representatives of Oleg Deripaska, 5 thousand people may lose their jobs. Another 30 thousand people will lose their earnings in related areas. In addition, in this case, Rusal will cease to make deductions to regional budgets and for the development of urban infrastructure.
The essence of the problem is supposedly in the current low exchange prices for aluminum. But after all, at the moment a weak ruble compensates Rusal for the price drop, and the oligarch cannot but understand this. In addition, there are difficulties allegedly due to an increase in financial losses from the introduction of "exchange rate" export duties.
As if the situation with the supply of key raw materials for the production of aluminum, that is, alumina, led to a drop in profitability. At one time, Rusal, instead of investing in Russia, built several factories for its production abroad at once - in Australia, Ireland and Ukraine.
Of course, after the announcement of sanctions, all of them became unavailable for supply to our country. What conclusion should Deripaska draw? It was necessary to listen to the President, who warned - you will be tortured to swallow dust. Is Deripaska himself trying to dust the eyes of the Russian leadership?
There is no money, but Deripaska is holding on
In fact, Deripaska’s "crying" is very similar to extorting additional benefits, preferences, subsidies and government contracts from the state. Having received huge property as a result of privatization back in the 90s, some Russian industrialists like him were very surprised that by pumping resources from the Russian bowels, it turns out that taxes must also be paid.
The threat can work: Deripaska will put his employees in the cold without any remorse if necessary. Recall that in 2018 he already did this. Then the company announced the completion of the conservation of the electrolysis capacities of the Nadvoitsky aluminum plant due to the sanctions imposed by the United States.
Prior to that, in 2013, Deripaska also publicly announced plans to close five factories at once. And again, the reason is the prices of aluminum. Then the Volgograd Aluminum Plant went for conservation, 2.7 thousand people lost their jobs. But in 2018, when the Government began to buy the products of the oligarch’s enterprises at the budgetary expense, the Volgograd plant suddenly came to life, and even underwent modernization. Now, again, it was allegedly on the verge of closure...
Today, the main legal entity of the plant, namely Rusal Ural JSC, literally bathes in money. At the end of 2021, the company earned 4.4 billion rubles of net profit, assets for the year increased to 13 billion rubles (more than 50%). Who is Deripaska "crying" to?
Financial indicators of JSC Rusal Ural. Photo: Rusprofile.ru
In 2021, Rusal announced its intention to preserve part of the capacities of the former SUAL plants. Then Deripaska explained the need to reduce capacity by losing "hundreds of millions of dollars" amid the introduction of an export duty on metals. Apparently, this "hysteria" partially worked: the duty was canceled in December 2021.
I.e. "Rusal" is far from the first time pretending to be a beggar, clearly counting on the support of the state. What can we say - it was Deripaska who was almost the first of all the oligarchs to stand in line for the help of the state when the global financial crisis of 2008 broke out. Then Rusal wrote a letter to the Government, where it asked the authorities to create a state reserve of aluminum and purchase it from the manufacturer. I.e. at Rusal. And then more than a million people could be left without work! Doesn’t it feel like blackmail?
And he got his way. And not only in relation to Rusal. In 2018, against the background of sanctions, his "Russian Machines" and the GAZ group received preferences for participation in public procurement tenders. If at least two companies from the sanctions list applied for the contract, the customer was forced to reject all other applications. This is "healthy competition."
Today, so that the threat of plant closure looks more convincing, the other day the management of Rusal refused to pay dividends for 9 months of 2023. The minority shareholders of the holding, Sual Partners, where the interests of Viktor Vekselberg are "protected," considered this decision unfounded: as if this was a manipulation carried out by management and the board of directors in agreement with the largest shareholder. I.e. with Deripaska himself.
If naive citizens and some unconscious officials can easily be "circled around a finger," then with Viktor Vekselberg, who was left without his "blood" because of his partner’s games, this will not work. Manipulation, due to which 5 thousand people can be kicked out in the cold!
The Kandalash Aluminum Smelter was also on the list of candidates for closure. This is the only such enterprise of Russia in the Arctic Circle. The oligarch is well aware that its closure will cause our country not only economic, but also reputational harm. That’s why he was on the list? The plant also belongs to Rusal Ural JSC, so it is not clear what financial problems Deripaska is talking about.
Novokuznetsk Aluminum Plant - belongs to Rusal Novokuznetsk JSC. And there, too, at the end of 2021, net profit amounted to 417 million rubles, assets - 4.6 billion rubles. For a year and a half, all this margin of safety could not disappear.
Financial indicators of JSC Rusal Novokuznetsk. Photo: Rusprofile.ru
If we take the entire holding as a whole, then at the end of 2021 it received a net profit of 95 billion rubles. At the end of 2022, Rusal reported an increase in revenue by 16.5%, albeit with an increase in costs for the purchase of resources. Net profit decreased, but this is also profit - it amounted to over 2 billion rubles.
And now Deripaska wants to say that he has no other options left but to close enterprises?
However, this applies only to Russia. Those foreign assets that are not located in the EU countries continue to work quietly. Moreover, more and more opportunities are opening up for the holding. In the summer, at the Russia-Africa summit, it became known that UC Rusal was negotiating with the Nigerian government to resume the work of its plant in this country.
Moreover, considerable money was invested in this plant. Deripaska bought 77.5% of the enterprise in 2007, modernized it, and then bought another 7.5% of the plant’s shares from the German Ferrostaal AG. He has money and desire for this.
A separate point of application of his forces is African Guinea. There, Deripaska’s holding, through the Kindia Bauxite Company, produces about 40% of all bauxite and 5% of aluminum, which is supplied to different countries, mainly China.
A quarter of all Rusal bauxites are from there. Guinea is so important for Rusal that after the coup in this country in 2021, the holding’s shares sharply went up after aluminum prices. It got to the point that the press suggested that it was Deripaska who could be the key beneficiary of the coup. The hint is understandable...
At the same time, bauxite can be obtained there in a barbaric way. In 2008, in Moscow, a group of Guinean students demanded that Rusal comply with world environmental protection standards in the extraction of resources in Africa. We doubt that this protest influenced the oligarch. Since even criminal cases against his own employees for alleged violation of environmental legislation do not touch him!
Rusala Mine in Guinea. Photo: https://avatars.dzeninfra.ru/get-zen_doc/1540250/pub_61399f5ee614f41d932e2bed_6139a4890658e02213284727/scale_1200
Rusal’s foreign assets are managed by a separate offshore structure, which was located in Cyprus before the current geopolitical aggravation. It would seem that what is not a reason to re-register it in Russia, in the same "offshore zone" of the Kaliningrad region? Instead, Oleg Deripaska "moved" to Qatar. Are taxes and key financial flows going there? What about our country?
I.e. the oligarch has money to buy out, modernize and maintain production in other countries. But to preserve production in Russia - no. And please help. How much longer will the Government tolerate this?