Russian tycoon in GAZ sanctions talks; investors get more time
By Katya Golubkova and Gleb Stolyarov MOSCOW (Reuters) - Oleg Deripaska's team, which secured the lifting of U.S.
By Katya Golubkova and Gleb Stolyarov
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Oleg Deripaska's team, which secured the lifting of U.S. sanctions on the Russian tycoon's aluminium and energy businesses, is also working to get them removed from his automaker GAZ
The U.S. Treasury on Thursday extended a deadline for investors to divest from GAZ to March 7 and granted businesses a matching reprieve to wind down operations and contracts involving the firm. The deadline for both had been Jan. 21.
The announcement comes one day after the Treasury said in a statement it would lift sanctions on Deripaska's core empire, aluminium giant Rusal <0486.HK> and its parent En+
The U.S. Treasury had imposed sanctions on Deripaska, Rusal, En+, GAZ and other companies in which he owns major stakes in April, citing "malign activities" by Russia.
On Wednesday, it said Rusal, En+ and power firm EuroSibEnergo had agreed to restructure to reduce Deripaska's stakes, adding if Congress does not object the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) would lift the sanctions in one month.
But there was no mention of GAZ, Russia's largest producer of light commercial vehicles (LCV), leaving market players guessing over its fate.
"Talks (with OFAC over GAZ) are continuing, they are separate from talks on other Deripaska's companies as this (cars) is a different market and other players are interested in sanctions being removed," one of the sources said.
GAZ exports vehicles to over 25 countries outside Russia, and at home, its stake at the LCV market is around 50 percent.
GAZ has a contract manufacturing relationship with Germany's Daimler
A second source familiar with the talks said the main focus on getting sanctions lifted on GAZ was for it to mirror the shareholder changes which En+ had committed to undergo.
Under the deal with OFAC, Deripaska's stake in En+ will fall below 50 percent from 70 percent, with limited voting rights.
Two other sources familiar with the talks said the process may lead to GAZ selling some of its assets or a stake in itself, depending on how talks develop with the U.S. Treasury.
GAZ and Daimler declined to comment. Volkswagen said it was following developments closely.
"Volkswagen is in constant contact with the relevant departments for this purpose. It is crucial that we remain in a dialogue and do not slacken in our efforts to find a solution. In principle, Volkswagen AG complies with all existing sanctions," it said.
A representative for Deripaska did not reply to a request for a comment.
(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov, Polina Devitt, Tatiana Voronova, Anastasia Lyrchikova and Katya Golubkova in MOSCOW; Lesley Wroughton and Roberta Rampton in WASHINGTON; Laurence Frost in PARIS and Arno Schuetze in FRANKFURT; Editing by David Evans and Sonya Hepinstall)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
U.S. home sales fall as tight supply boosts prices | Reuters
France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.