Though the United States government says it isn’t trying to snuff the life from Russian aluminium giant U.C. Rusal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says that Oleg Deripaska must relinquish his majority position in the firm before he’ll entertain the possibility of a détente.
“The first aspect would be that he sells down below 50 percent,” Mnuchin explained to a Bloomberg TV interviewer on Monday.
He continued by characterizing Washington D.C.’s discussions with the firm “encouraging.”
“Our objective was not to put Rusal out of business and that’s why we extended the license,” he continued.
The sanctions, which were leveled on the company almost a month hence, set off a chain reaction that has resulted in a number of challenges to both Rusal and firms around the globe with which the Russian company conducts business.
Deripaska has already agreed in principle to divest himself of outright control of the world’s second biggest aluminium producer by selling off ownership of Rusal’s parent company En+ Group.
Should this represent the first step in a meeting of the minds regarding the lifting of sanctions, it comes not a moment too soon. With the global aluminium market already on edge due to the blanket 10-percent tariffs on imported aluminium levied by the Trump administration just weeks before, the sanctions set off two full weeks of chaos in the global aluminium market, as stakeholders along the entirety of the aluminium supply chain were sent scrambling to find alternative trading partners.
Though some tension was eased after the U.S. government extended the deadline for companies who trade with Rusal to find alternatives, the move pushed aluminium prices off into an abyss, presenting a separate set of challenges to the global market.
Enacted somewhat by surprise on April 6, the sanctions on Rusal and Deripaska are part of a wider roster of sanctions invoked against several Russian businessmen, bureaucrats, and business interests the United States charge with being part of a shadowy cabal involved in several misdeeds around the globe, including alleged tampering with the country’s latest presidential elections.