MOSCOW -- Russian aluminum giant Rusal says its chief executive, Aleksandra Buriko, and half of its managerial board have resigned to make sure the firm avoids U.S. sanctions against its founder, Oleg Deripaska.
The resignations were part of "the efforts that have been made by the management of the group to protect the interests of the company and its shareholders” since the sanctions were imposed last month, Rusal said in a May 24 statement.
Buriko resigned after less than three months in the role of CEO, along with seven directors, after the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced new punitive measures against Russia in early April in response to Russia's "malign" activities around the world.
The fresh sanctions primarily targeted Russian oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin, including Deripaska, prompting Rusal shares to tumble while the price of aluminum soared.
To avoid further turmoil on the market, the U.S. government then indicated that Rusal, which produces 7 percent of the world's aluminum, could avoid being caught up in the sanctions by parting with Deripaska.
Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said the Rusal management's decision to leave the company was "good."
"That means that sanctions will be lifted soon,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Deripaska has stepped down as a director of En+ Group, which owns almost half of Rusal and is itself subject to sanctions.
"The company constantly evaluates the impact of the OFAC sanctions on the [En+] Group," Rusal said. "At the current stage, the company remains of the same view that the impact may be materially adverse to the business and prospects of the group."
Rusal shares rose more than 3 percent in Hong Kong following the announcement.
Earlier in May, Ukraine expanded restrictions against Russia to mirror those of the United States, putting Deripaska and other prominent Russians on its sanctions list, a document on the Ukrainian president's website showed on May 24.
Restrictions on Deripaska could potentially affect the operations of the Mykolayiv aluminum plant in southern Ukraine, which is owned by Rusal.