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Shares plummet US Russian sanctions hit Swiss companies

Viktor Vekselberg

Viktor Vekselberg's Renova comes under the US sanctions list

(Keystone)

Shares in three Swiss industrial companies tumbled after the United States directed sanctions against a Russian holding company that has sizeable stakes in the firms.

Commodities trader Glencore also took measures to mitigate potential effects of the sanctions.

Last week the US Treasury Department released a list of Russian oligarchs, companies and government officials that are subject to sanctions. Included on the list of ‘specially designated nationals’ (SDNs) are the investment group Renova, owned by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, and commodities firms Rusal and EN+.

The sanctions could result in US bank accounts being frozen and disruptions in trade. Any company that is at least 50% owned by an entity or person on the list also comes under the sanctions. As a result, Winterthur-based industrial pumps manufacturer Sulzer said it would buy back shares from Renova to reduce the Russian group’s holding in the firm from around 63% to under 49%.

This was not enough to prevent shares falling 16% on Monday. Shares in Oerlikon and Schmolz + Bickenbach also fell despite both companies issuing statements pointing out that Renova’s stake is well below the 50% threshold.

Glasenberg move

On Tuesday, Swiss commodities trading giant Glencore said its CEO Ivan Glasenberg would step down from his role as a director of aluminum mining giant Rusal. Glencore also said it is putting on ice a deal to swap some of its Rusal shares for those in EN+ 

“Glencore is committed to complying with all applicable sanctions in its business and is taking all necessary measures in order to mitigate any risks to Glencore's business as result of the designation of Rusal and EN+ as SDNs, including in respect of secondary sanctions,” the trader stated on Tuesday.

Glencore added that it is “evaluating the position under its contracts with Rusal”, but said these are not significant enough to affect the firm’s overall finances.

The US said the sanctions were in retaliation for Russian stance in Crimea, Syria and Ukraine plus ‘interference’ in the West, including cyber activities.

swissinfo.ch/mga

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