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Evraz shares slide after Abramovich, co-owners sell 1.8% of steelmaker

Evraz PLC shares opened down 5.7% at 594 pence March 19 in London after the Russian steelmaker's four core shareholders sold a total of 25.4 million shares in an accelerated bookbuild at a price of 595 pence apiece.

Kremlin associate Roman Abramovich accounted for just under half of the £151.1 million placing. He sold a 0.8% stake in Evraz via Greenleas International Holdings Ltd., of which he is the beneficial owner, bringing his ownership down to 29.7%.

Chairman Alexander Abramov sold 8,470,900 shares, representing 0.6% of voting rights, through holding company Abiglaze Ltd. CEO Alexander Frolov sold a 0.3% stake through holding company Crosland Global Ltd.

The chairman and CEO of Russia's second-largest steelmaker now own 20.1% and 10.0%, respectively, the company said in a March 19 news release.

Eugene Shvidler, a nonexecutive director and an American citizen, sold 1,206,500 shares, representing about 0.1%, through Toshi Holdings Ltd., reducing his overall holding to 2.9%.

On the basis of the placement price, Abramovich's shares were worth £68.4 million, while Abramov's sold for £50.4 million.

All four shareholders are now subject to a 60-day lockup period barring further sales.

"The two key shareholders, Roman Abramovich and Alexander Abramov, now own less than 50% between them which, in my opinion, takes away the risk of sanctions being imposed against Evraz," CFO Nikolay Ivanov said on a conference call, according to Interfax.

"If sanctions are imposed against one of the key shareholders, Evraz will be far less vulnerable," Ivanov said.

U.S. sanctions were recently lifted from Russia's largest aluminum producer, United Co. Rusal PLC, after Russian billionaire and Kremlin insider Oleg Deripaska reduced and restructured his ownership and control of the company. Deripaska himself, however, remains subject to the sanctions against Russia.

FTSE 100 constituent Evraz's shares have returned over 50% in the past year and closed at 630 pence apiece March 18. It recently outlined plans to buy back US$700 million of 6.5% bonds maturing in 2020.