VTB closed the credit line of the Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska

Friday, 25 May, 2018

In a statement issued in Hong Kong, where it is listed, Rusal said Deripaska, a non-executive director of the company, had stepped down as director.

Alexandra Bouriko, who took over as CEO in March, had resigned with effect from May 23, it said, and would be replaced by Evgeny Nikitin as acting CEO until such time as the board appointed a new permanent CEO.

"The business with newly sanctioned institutions represents less than 2 per cent of our assets so of course it will affect us to a certain extent but we still have to see what's going to happen with them as there's some discussion that they could be lifted for Rusal and some other companies". The metals giant was also told it could escape the sanctions if Deripaska cedes control of the company.

Rusal, which produces 7% of the world's aluminum, has been under intense pressure following the sanctions, which targeted a number of oligarchs and government officials including its founder, Oleg Deripaska.

Most of the board members who have stepped down were nominated for their positions by EN+, the holding company through which Deripaska controls Rusal.

The resignations announced Thursday are an extra step to comply with Washington.

"The moves are rather formal, but they show that Deripaska is ready to give the United States an excuse to at least ease the sanctions", said Kirill Chuyko, an analyst at BCS Global Markets in Moscow.

Rusal itself also noted that the sanctions may still harm its operations.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov was more optimistic about the announcements on Thursday.

In an illustration of the damage dealt by the sanctions, Russia's VTB bank (VTBR.MM) said it had become owner of a 9.6 percent stake in En+ after the firm's stocks sank.

In a separate statement to the bourse, Rusal said it was of the opinion that global financial institutions were likely to stop dealing with the group unless the U.S. sanctions were lifted or the company was granted a new licence by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).