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By John Helmer, Moscow

United Company Rusal, the Jersey-registered aluminium monopoly of Russia, has announced that “Mr Barry Cheung resigns as Chairman of the Company with effect from 1 October 2012, but will remain as an independent non-executive director of the Company. The Board is pleased to announce that Mr Matthias Warnig, an independent non-executive director of the Company, has been appointed as Chairman of the Company with effect from 1 October 2012.”

The action was first reported here on May 28, after Oleg Deripaska, the chief executive, promised President Vladimir Putin that he would make the change. His delay since then, and the timing of the announcement now, are to be interpreted, according to people familiar with the matter, as signs that Deripaska’s shareholding control of Rusal is dwindling, along with his room for control of the company’s cashflow. According to one source, “there’s not a bank in the world who would lend Deripaska fresh money if he is obliged to make a big payment to Chernoy.” He is referring to the out of court settlement reached last week between Deripaska and his former patron, Michael Cherney (Chernoy), a 13.4% stakeholder of Rusal in waiting until last week’s deal.

That leaves the only bankers who haven’t closed the guichet to such a loan – Russia’s state banks. Their price, if Deripaska has had to borrow anew, is Rusal shares Deripaska has been calling his own. After Victor Vekselberg, a 15.8% shareholder of Rusal, resigned the Rusal chairmanship in March, it was Deripaska’s shares which put Cheung in the chairman’s seat. Cheung’s removal, and his replacement by Warnig, have been dictated by shares Deripaska no longer controls.

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