Deripaska says will stay as RUSAL CEO

Mon Feb 1, 2010 10:30am EST
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By Gleb Bryanski

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Oleg Deripaska will remain chief of UC RUSAL (0486.HK: Quote) even after a $2.2 billion initial public offering (IPO) diluted his control of the world's largest aluminum producer, Deripaska told Reuters.

"I know the company very well and have no plans to leave the position of chief executive," said Deripaska, the physicist turned metals trader who emerged most strongly from the ferocious takeover battles for control of Russia's aluminum industry in the 1990s. It was his first major interview since the group listed in Hong Kong last month.

Deripaska, once Russia's richest man, spent most of last year clinching a huge debt restructuring deal with banks to be able to proceed with the Hong Kong IPO, which saw his stake fall below 50 percent.

Two legal cases hung over the listing: one a challenge by the outgoing government of Guinea to RUSAL's ownership of alumina assets in the west African country, and the other a $4 billion-plus lawsuit brought by ex-associate Mikhail Cherney against Deripaska in London.

Deripaska compared the case in Guinea against his company to "extortion" and said there was little risk for UC RUSAL from the suit against him by Cherney.

"We understand that the country (Guinea) is in a difficult economic shape and the government has to look for ways out of the situation. We are ready for talks," he said, also playing down risks from the Cherney case.

"There are no risks for the company because RUSAL is not part of that suit," said Deripaska, who spoke in short sentences in his trademark low voice as he sipped tea with honey and lemon in an upmarket hotel in the Swiss resort of Davos, where he stayed during the World Economic Forum.

Deripaska, 42, grew his empire from a small metals trading operation, expanding rapidly in the often-violent consolidation of the sector of the 1990s.   Continued...