Vladimir Potanin: confiscation of companies’ assets would take Russia back to 1917

Russian metals king Vladimir Potanin of Interros, known as Russia’s oldest private investment group founder, which is the largest assets owner of Norilsk Nickel, stated that the issue of confiscating the enterprises of those firms that had announced their withdrawal from the Russian market should be approached very carefully.

“This would take us back a hundred years to 1917 (Bolshevik revolution), and we would experience unpleasant consequences of such a step – the global distrust of Russia on the part of investors – for many decades,” he said on the Telegram messaging app.

“The decision of many companies to suspend operations in Russia is, I would say, somewhat emotional and may have been made as a result of unprecedented pressure on them from public opinion abroad. So it’s likely that they will come back. And personally, I would keep that option open for them,” he said.

“Cases of nationalisation – that is, the purchase of enterprises from the owner and their subsequent transfer to state ownership – are known in recent history. This is a more civilised approach, which is usually used to restructure entire industries, often with subsequent privatisation. That is why I am not sure whether it is reasonable to speak about nationalisation of assets of foreign companies today,” he said.

According to Potanin, a more relevant measure is the proposal of the Ministry of Economic Development – to introduce external management at such enterprises. «it would allow the owners to retain their property, and the companies to avoid collapse, to continue producing products and to pay wages to their employees,” Potanin believes.

Russia’s economic measures in response to the restrictions caused by the situation around Ukraine should be pragmatic and aimed at maintaining its position in the markets, said the head of Norilsk Nickel.

“I think it is very important that in the current situation Russia’s economic response measures should be calibrated, pragmatic and not lead to additional difficulties for the domestic economy. Against the backdrop of largely irrational and even hysterical events on world markets, we should look solid and calm, and our efforts should be aimed not at ‘slamming the door’ but at maintaining Russia’s economic position in those markets that we have been mastering for so long,” Potanin said.

“This applies, for example, to issues of exports of Russian products. It is no secret that many states use sanctions, among other things, as a tool in the competitive struggle. It would be wrong if Russia, through its actions, contributed to the achievement of these goals,” he believes.

“On the contrary, if we are being “squeezed out” of the markets, we should try to hold on to them rather than voluntarily give up,” concluded the head of Norilsk Nickel.

The company is the world’s largest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel, with market shares of 40% and 20%, respectively, and a major producer of copper and platinum.



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