Russian magnate says charging roubles for exports would backfire – newspaper

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Chairman of the Board of Directors of NLMK company Vladimir Lisin attends a session during the Week of Russian Business in Moscow

(Reuters) – Steel baron Vladimir Lisin, listed by Forbes magazine as Russia’s third richest man, told Kommersant newspaper on Tuesday that Moscow’s plans to charge roubles for its exports would undermine country’s position on global markets.

He also criticized the proposed delisting of Russian companies’ depositary receipts from foreign exchanges, saying this would increase risks and undermine the rights of shareholders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered that natural gas, exported mostly to Europe, be paid for in roubles instead of foreign currency following sweeping Western sanctions over Ukraine.

European capitals have rejected the demand, which Germany said amounted to “blackmail”.

Some politicians, including the speaker of the lower house of parliament Vyacheslav Volodin, suggested Russia should sell oil, grain, metals, fertiliser, coal and timber for roubles on global markets where it is profitable.

“For decades we’ve been fighting for export markets… We’ve been developing relations with thousands of clients in 70 countries. It’s hard to imagine what would convince our buyers to switch to settlements in roubles and incur currency risks,” Lisin told the newspaper.

“Logistics problems have already complicated delivery of goods. Switching to payments in roubles will just throw us out of international markets.”

Last month Lisin told employees at steelmaker NLMK, of which he is the chairman and main shareholder, that lives lost in Ukraine were a tragedy that was hard to justify, and called for a peaceful diplomatic resolution to the conflict.

Lisin said in a letter to staff that was posted on social networks by an employee that the company and its board hoped the conflict would be resolved soon.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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