Deripaska Feels the Squeeze

This one comes from

Fast-forward to October, 2008. Russia is being hit by a double-whammy. The credit crunch is hitting with a vengeance – the Moscow bourse has lost 60 per cent of its value since June. But the global slowdown and decline in commodity prices are also hurting Russian companies. Norilsk is barely worth a fourth of what it was in May – after the stock price took a 30 per cent dive on Monday on disappointing first-half results. This means that Deripaska’s stake is now worth about $3 billion – a third less of what he had to borrow to pay for only part of it. Rusal says the stake is “strategic”, safe and not subject to margin calls. But at the very least Deripaska’s creditors have some reason for feeling a bit nervous. Deripaska may look like the worst off of Russian oligarchs, but he’s not the only one to feel pain. His current nemesis Vladimir Potanin, with whom he’s locked in a stand-off over the fate of Norilsk, is also said to have been squeezed hard by the credit crunch, after pledging shares to raise cash. The Kremlin’s friends are hurting. But there’s little Putin or Medvedev can do to soothe their pain.

I wonder how many billions will have to bled from the oligarchs before some of the hawkish Cold War siloviki find themselves at the wrong end of their very own show trial… Seems like the “pact” between the Kremlin and the private sector won’t be sustainable for very long in such an atmosphere.