Russian Aluminum Giant’s Owner Considers Splitting Foreign Operations

The controlling shareholder of Rusal, 486 34.08% Russia’s largest aluminum producer, said it was exploring a separation of the company’s international operations and that its British chairman was stepping down.

The dual announcements from EN+ Group International PJSC come as the war in Ukraine causes various challenges for companies operating in Russia, prompting some Western-based businesses to re-evaluate their presence in the region.

EN+ said Monday it was reviewing its strategy with respect to United Co. Rusal PLC, the world’s No. 2 aluminum company, in which it has a 57% stake. Options under consideration include the possibility of carving out Rusal’s international business, which would be owned by management and non-Russian investors.

EN+ is listed in London and counts Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who was sanctioned in the U.S. in 2018, as its largest shareholder with a 45% stake. Commodities giant Glencore PLC is also an EN+ shareholder, with a 10.5% holding.

Spokespeople for Mr. Deripaska and Glencore declined to comment. Glencore said last week it was reviewing its business in Russia, including its EN+ stake.

EN+ counts Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who was sanctioned in the U.S. in 2018, as its largest shareholder.

Photo: Andrei Samsonov/Zuma Press

EN+ also said Monday that its chairman, Greg Barker, had stepped down. Mr. Barker, a former British government minister, is to be succeeded by Christopher Bancroft Burnham, a former State Department official who had been the company’s senior independent director.

Mr. Barker was among a cadre of British businessmen and former government officials who sat on the boards of Russian companies. A member of Britain’s House of Lords, Mr. Barker had been criticized by British lawmakers for his position on EN+’s board following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

News of the strategic review was earlier reported by Bloomberg, which said Mr. Barker could helm any new company created out of Rusal’s international assets.

However, the majority of Rusal’s operations are in Russia, or dependent on the country’s product. It does, though, own smelters in Ireland and Jamaica, among other assets.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February, the U.S. and allied countries have imposed heavy sanctions on Russia. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday dives into how these sanctions are affecting everyone from President Vladimir Putin to everyday Russian citizens. Photo: Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press

Write to Alistair MacDonald at alistair.macdonald@wsj.com

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