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Ivan Glasenberg, the chief executive of mining giant Glencore, has resigned from his position as a director at Russian aluminum firm Rusal following the imposition of targeted U.S. sanctions on the company.
Glencore, the world's largest commodities company saw its share price fall as much as 5 percent Monday thanks to U.S. Treasury sanctions targeting Rusal, among other entities owned by a number of select Russian oligarchs with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Glencore owns an 8.75 percent stake in Rusal — which produces around 6 percent of global aluminum supply — and is the largest buyer of its metal.
Rusal, which is owned by billionaire Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska — a close Putin ally and a target of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's alleged 2016 election meddling — is one of several companies to come under the label of "Specially Designated Nationals" (SDN), along with Deripaska's enormous holding company EN+. This designation freezes a company's U.S. assets and forbids U.S. nationals from doing business with them, while the extra-territorial nature of the Treasury's secondary sanctions also inhibits broader global trade.
"Glencore is committed to complying with all applicable sanctions in its business and is taking all necessary measures in order to mitigate any risks to Glencore's business as a result of the designation of Rusal and EN+ as SDNs, including in respect of secondary sanctions," a statement from Glencore, issued Tuesday, said.
"Glencore is still evaluating the position under its contracts with Rusal, but notes that these contracts are not financially material to Glencore."
The Switzerland-based company was slated to swap its Rusal shares for a stake in EN+, but will no longer be carrying out the transaction, the statement said. Analysts believe Rusal may have to default on its debt to international creditors unless it is bailed out by the Russian government.
The billionaire CEO's move is proof of the immediate effectiveness of the Treasury's sanctions, aimed at throttling Western investment in the country and cutting the international reach of Russian business magnates who act as conduits for that investment.
Glasenberg's resignation comes after heavy losses for Russian stocks, which on Monday suffered their worst day since 2014. The U.S. sanctions are intended to strangle access to Western financing for the companies and individuals targeted, and the unpredictable nature of the measures have stoked fears among Russians and foreign investors that no company is safe from future sanctions.
Washington's latest salvo manifested itself amid the worst Russia-U.S. relations since the Cold War. The countries have expelled scores of each other's diplomats following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the U.K., an attack Western officials have attributed to the Russian government. Federal investigations into Russian interference in America's 2016 election are ongoing, while the Kremlin has denied all accusations against it.
U.K.-listed shares of Glencore were up 2.6 percent shortly after markets opened in Europe on Tuesday.