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Rusal, En+ shares fall as Democrats look to maintain US sanctions

United Co. Rusal PLC shares and En+ Group PLC global depositary receipts fell sharply as trading opened in Moscow on Jan. 9, Russian news agency TASS reported, after U.S. House Democratic leaders sought to delay easing the sanctions against Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska's companies.

The chairs of seven committees of the House of Representatives wrote a letter dated Jan. 8 to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressing concerns over a deal to lift sanctions on Rusal, En+ and EuroSibEnergo PLC, which they said leaves Kremlin associate Deripaska with significant ownership of the businesses.

The signatories also noted that the notification to Congress of the termination of the sanctions was delivered just before an extended recess and government shutdown, making it difficult to review the matter within the 30-day period allotted by the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

Rusal was down by as much as 3.4% at 28.83 Russian rubles per share in early Moscow trading, while En+ slipped by up to 5.8% to 402.4 rubles per share before paring losses, TASS reported.

Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said Jan. 9 that "painstaking work" is underway regarding the U.S. sanctions against Deripaska's companies, Interfax reported.

"We would prefer to be very cautious with regard to any statements concerning sanctions on Deripaska's companies," Peskov said.

Moscow has done its best in recent months to shore up aluminum producer Rusal by purchasing the strategic metal for state reserves.

The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control said in December 2018 that it would lift sanctions against Rusal and En+ on the condition of significant changes, including a reduction in Deripaska's direct and indirect ownership and board reorganizations. Deripaska is to remain sanctioned.

As of Jan. 8, US$1 was equivalent to 66.90 Russian rubles.