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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Alfa Forced to Delay Suit Against Aluminum Firm

Financial-industrial group Alfa's attempts to bankrupt Russia's biggest producer of rolled aluminum over a $12 million debt were looking shaky Tuesday after it was again forced to postpone filing suit and the regional government cautiously supported the aluminum factory.

Alfa-Eko, part of Alfa Group, had intended to start bankruptcy proceedings against the Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Factory, KRAZ, on Tuesday but "technical reasons" had forced a one-day postponement, said Alfa-Eko spokesman Ilya Myagchenkov.

Alfa-Eko remains committed to pursuing the bankruptcy suit, he added.

However, it is unlikely that the suit will be allowed to succeed, analysts said. If the legal battle became unwinnable, KRAZ would simply pay up.

"This debt of $12 million is just not a serious sum of money for somebody like KRAZ," said Kaha Kiknavelidze, metals analyst at Troika Dialog. "No one will bankrupt KRAZ for this."

KRAZ also received support from the Krasnoyarsk administration, despite an unexpected and vicious public attack by the company's board chairman, Anatoly Bykov, on Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexander Lebed.

At a news conference in Krasnoyarsk on Tuesday, Bykov said he had been wrong to support Lebed's bid for governor, Oleg Dranishnikov, a KRAZ spokesman, told The Moscow Times by telephone from Krasnoyarsk.

Lebed and his team of "inexperienced boys and girls from Moscow" were paying very little attention to the Krasnoyarsk region and its problems because they were too busy preparing for Lebed's presidential campaign, Dranishnikov quoted Bykov as saying.

"We were electing a governor, not a would-be president," Bykov said.

However, the chairman of Lebed's media relations committee, Petr Konstantinov, played down Bykov's remarks and voiced support for the company.

Bykov was probably speaking in his capacity "as a deputy [of the local legislature], not as the Board Chairman of KRAZ." Konstantinov said in a telephone interview.

He also said the administration was not likely to support bankruptcy proceedings against KRAZ.

"KRAZ pays all its taxes and so there is no reason for the administration to interfere with its workings," he said.

KRAZ accumulated $12 million debts to Alfa-Eko over the past two years for fuel, aluminum and soda supplies, Myagchenkov said this week.

However, Bykov said Tuesday that KRAZ had paid all it owed to Alfa-Eko on Dec 2, just as the latter was trying to file a bankruptcy suit.

Alfa-Eko, which denies Bykov's claim, first tried to start the proceedings at the Krasnoyarsk arbitration court Friday, but Myagchenkov said the suit was rejected on a technicality.