Vladimir Potanin: Russia’s richest businessman has a warning for Putin
“First, it would take us back a hundred years, to 1917, and the consequences of such a move – a global distrust of Russia by investors – that we would suffer for many decades,” he said. he said in a post on Norilsk Nickel. Telegram account Thursday.
“Secondly, the decision of many companies to suspend their operations in Russia is, I would say, somewhat emotional in nature and may have been taken as a result of unprecedented pressure exerted on them by public opinion abroad. . So it is very likely that they will come back. And personally, I would keep such an opportunity for them,” he added.
Potanin is Russia’s richest billionaire and is still worth around $22.5 billion, according to Bloomberg, although he lost around a quarter of his fortune this year when Norilsk Nickel shares crashed. The company’s shares fell more than 90% in London trading before being suspended this month, despite soaring commodity prices.
Norilsk Nickel is the world’s largest producer of high-grade palladium and nickel, as well as a major producer of platinum and copper. The company and its main products have escaped punitive sanctions imposed by Western countries that have criticized the Russian economy.
Dozens of American, European and Japanese companies have abandoned joint ventures, factories, stores, offices and other assets over the past two weeks in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions . They were joined on Thursday by Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, the first major Western banks to announce they will exit Russia altogether since the crisis erupted in February.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he backs a plan to introduce “external management” of foreign companies leaving Russia.
“We must act decisively with those [companies] who are going to shut down their production,” Putin said according to a video posted by the Kremlin and shown on state media. “It is necessary, then… to introduce external management and then transfer these companies to those who want to work,” he added.
Russia’s consumer rights organization has compiled a list of companies that have decided to leave and could be nationalized, according to a report by Russian newspaper Izvestiya later quoted by state news agency TASS.
The document reportedly sent to the Russian government and the Attorney General’s office includes 59 companies, including Volkswagen, Apple, IKEA, Microsoft, IBM, Shell, McDonald’s, Porsche, Toyota, H&M, and may be updated with others brands, Izvestiya mentioned.
Potanin said it was not particularly timely to talk about nationalizing Western assets, but the Kremlin’s proposal could allow “owners to retain ownership and businesses to avoid collapse, to continue producing products and pay money to employees”.
“I understand that in light of the economic restrictions directed against Russia, there may be an understandable desire to act symmetrically,” he wrote. “But on the example of Western countries, we see that the economies of these countries are suffering from the imposition of sanctions against Russia. We must be wiser and avoid a scenario where retaliatory sanctions hit us.”
He also called on Russia to ease foreign currency restrictions so that interest can be paid on foreign bonds and loans. Otherwise, there was a risk that the country would default on all of its external debt, which it estimated at around $480 billion.