Deripaska Named RusAl CEO

Oleg Deripaska has been appointed chief executive of United Company RusAl to help with "crisis management," the company said Sunday.

Deripaska, who owns 57 percent of the aluminum giant through his Basic Element holding, was also CEO from 2000 to 2003. The company has faced tough challenges over the past half year as metals prices halved and RusAl had to refinance its huge debt.

"Deripaska's role as CEO will be focused on providing for the sustainable development of the company under the conditions of the global financial crisis and implementing a series of crisis management measures," RusAl said in an e-mailed statement.

The candidacy of Deripaska — whom Forbes listed as Russia's richest person in May — was supported by other RusAl shareholders, including billionaires Viktor Vekselberg, Mikhail Prokhorov and Len Blavatnik.

Alexander Bulygin, the outgoing RusAl CEO, will move to chair the board of EN+ Group, which controls BasEl's energy and metal assets.

"Russian businessmen stepped back from the immediate management of their businesses over the last five years of the economic boom," said Nikolai Sosnovsky, a metals analyst at UralSib. "Now, the time has come to get back to the rudder."

RusAl said in an e-mailed response to questions that Deripaska's return was connected to the "realization of large-scale programs on the stabilization of the situation in the industry."

Sosnovsky estimated that aluminum production in Russia costs around $2,000 per ton, well above Friday's close on the London Metal Exchange of $1,465.

"RusAl is in a very difficult situation," Sosnovsky said.

The company also has to deal with its debt, which Vedomosti put at $17 billion in December.