Deripaska Takes First Step to Win Sanctions Reprieve

(Bloomberg) -- Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska took the first steps to reduce his influence over his commodity business as he seeks to persuade the U.S. to lift sanctions.

Deripaska stepped down as a director of En+ Group Plc, the company said on Friday. He also won’t be seeking re-election as a director of United Co. Rusal at the forthcoming annual general meeting and will be replaced by Philippe Mailfait, an En+ independent director, it said.

Deripaska is seeking to persuade the U.S. to roll back sanctions that blacklisted Rusal and En+ from Western markets and fueled chaos in the global supply chain for aluminum since they were announced April 6. En+ announced last month the tycoon agreed “in principle” to cut his stake in En+ and resign. It’s not clear whether the concessions will be enough to satisfy U.S. authorities.

The board also approved the broader Barker Plan to lift sanctions, named for En+ Chairman Greg Barker, the company said on Friday. The plan calls for Deripaska’s shareholding to be reduced below 50 percent and to end his influence on the board by appointing a majority of independent directors, it said.

“The En+ directors’ unanimous approval of my far-reaching sanctions-removal plan shows we mean business,” Barker said in a separate statement. “Mr. Deripaska’s departure from the boards of En+ and Rusal is just the start of the sweeping changes to come.”

While the U.S. has extended a deadline for investors to exit En+ until early June, the company will probably need a further extension in order to pull together the plan to lift sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter. Trading in the company’s global depository receipts is due to be suspended in London on June 1, the exchange said earlier this month.

Deripaska intends to keep some of his stake in En+, and the proposal to relinquish some control of the company is contingent on the U.S. removing sanctions, a person familiar with the matter said last month.

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