billionaires

Russian tycoon Deripaska criticizes Moscow, frets about investor flight

Reuters
Russian tycoon Deripaska criticizes Moscow, frets about investor flight

TYCOON. Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska attends the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 17, 2022.

Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

‘If we change the rules of the game every year or quarter, no one will have faith: neither Russian entrepreneurs nor foreign ones,’ says Oleg Deripaska, founder of aluminum giant Rusal

Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska on Thursday, March 2, urged the government to stop interfering in business and instead create a predictable environment based on the rule of law to attract foreign investors back to Russia’s sanctions-hit economy.

The billionaire told an economic forum in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk that he did not expect a “de-escalation” in Russia’s conflict with Ukraine before mid-2025 at the earliest, and that Western investors might not return for a decade.

Deripaska said Russia needed to and still could attract investors from “friendly” countries – those that have not joined the Western sanctions imposed on Russia for invading Ukraine – but was scathing about the business climate in an economy that the Kremlin is increasingly trying to focus on the war effort.

Russia’s richest businessmen – a group often referred to as the oligarchs – have generally kept a low profile since the invasion, so Deripaska’s public criticism of the government was unusual.

“I’m very worried all the time that the state and business are constantly being set against each other,” he said, questioning why the state needed “two prosecutors and four inspectors for each entrepreneur.”

The 55-year-old founder of aluminum giant Rusal, himself under Western sanctions for his perceived links to the Kremlin, has previously bemoaned the effect on the Russian economy of a military campaign whose value he cast doubt on.

Beyond driving out Western firms and investors, the invasion has had the effect of disrupting supply chains, taking hundreds of thousands of fighting-age men out of the economy, and cutting Russian firms off from Western technology.

“The rule of law and predictability are very important. If we change the rules of the game every year or quarter, no one will have faith: neither Russian entrepreneurs nor foreign ones,” Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

“We won’t need to make a choice. There will be no money next year. We will need foreign investors. And they will be looking to see what Russian investors are earning, what conditions they have.”

Preliminary Russian data say the economy, which had been predicted before the war to grow 3%, contracted 2.1% last year. Moody’s rating agency this week forecast that national output would shrink 3% this year – below the central bank’s forecast of -1% to +1%. – Rappler.com

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