Rusal’s Hong Kong listed stock sinks as US plans to slap fresh round of sanctions on Russia

Shares of Russian company, which produces about 7 per cent of the world’s aluminium, has lost 70 per cent of its value in last 10 trading sessions

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 2:47pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 11:01pm

Rusal, the world’s second largest aluminium producer, plummeted30 per cent in Hong Kong to a new low, adding to the 56 per cent plunge last week, following news that the Trump administration on Monday plans to impose a new round of sanctions on Russia for supporting Syria.

The US had, earlier this month, already targeted Russian companies and business allies of President Vladimir Putin, including Rusal’s majority owner Oleg Deripaska, for interfering in the 2016 US elections.

Shares in Rusal, which produces about 7 per cent of the world’s aluminium, closed down 30 per cent at HK$1.42, with about 306 million shares worth HK$490 million (US$62.4 million) changing hands.

The Russian firm has plunged 70 per cent in the past 10 trading sessions, after the US imposed wide-ranging vast sanctions, hitting the value of some Russian assets.

Meanwhile, aluminium prices posted its biggest weekly gain on the London Metal Exchange, rising 12 per cent last week on expectations that global supply will tighten.

“Unquestionably, the sanctions will lead to major disruptions to aluminium physical trade flows in the short term,” said Simona Gambarini, commodities economist at Capital Economics, in a recent note.

She raised the metal’s end-2018 forecast from US$1,900 per tonne to US$2,000 to reflect the risk of temporary disruptions to the metal’s flows.

“The Russian government engages in a range of malign activity around the globe, including continuing to occupy Crimea and instigate violence in eastern Ukraine, supplying the Assad regime with material and weaponry as they bomb their own civilians, attempting to subvert Western democracies, and malicious cyber activities,” said US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said earlier this month.

The measures include freezing all assets of the designated individuals and entities that are subject to US jurisdiction and prohibiting Americans from doing business with them.

But Gambarini believed the longer-term impact on the aluminium market might not be as severe as many fear.

“While the developed world might shun Russian aluminium, many other countries, notably China, might still be willing to buy it, particularly if it is sold at a discount,” she said, adding that higher LME prices could encourage production in China and elsewhere.

Deripaska owns majority stakes in both Rusal and En+ Group, a power plant operator. En+ Group’s London-listed GDR has also tumbled 50 per cent in the past 10 sessions, trading at US$6 at the end of last week.

The FTSE Russia IOB Index, which tracks the 15 biggest Russian companies on the London Stock Exchange’s International Order Book, posted a 13 per cent decline last week. On Monday, it opened lower and dropped 0.7 per cent to 650.02 in early trading.

The rouble also weakened to its lowest level against the US dollar in nearly two years. By late afternoon on Monday, the rouble was 2 per cent weaker at 62.23 to the dollar.