FAS grabbed the gills of Mordashov, Lisin and Rashnikov

The Federal Antimonopoly Service opened three cases: against Alexey Mordashov's Severstal, Vladimir Lisin's NLMK and Viktor Rashnikov's MMK.
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They are suspected of maintaining monopoly high prices in the hot-rolled flat market. The companies deny the charges, agreeing to provide the agency with all the information it needs.

The FAS said that the actions of the three companies show signs of establishing and maintaining a monopoly high prices for hot-rolled steel. According to the ministry, prices for rolled products in the first half of this year jumped by more than 50%, and the growth rates outstripped the rise in prices for raw materials for rolled products. “Demand from Russian consumers has not increased significantly,” the FAS said in a statement.

Businesses face turnover fines if a violation is found. FAS initiated three cases against each company separately. The department took into account that companies are competing with each other, therefore, within the framework of separate cases, they will not be able to access each other's commercial data.

FAS destructive

MMK told RBC that they operate within the framework of fair market competition, current legislation and are not a monopoly on the flat steel market. The company is ready to provide the FAS with all the necessary documents that will confirm innocence.

Compliance with antitrust laws was announced by NLMK. “NLMK Group always adheres to the principles of market competition and legal requirements, including in pricing,” the company said. NLMK is ready to provide FAS with all the necessary information. The company noted that the hot-rolled steel sector is competitive and open, including for imports. In this regard, prices for products are formed on the basis of market conditions.

Severstal said they had not received documents on the initiation of the case from the FAS. In the Telegram channel, the company noted that it could not comment on "what was the FAS guided by," but assured about its readiness for dialogue and cooperation with the FAS in the framework of the investigation. The trend of a shortage of steel products in the world is temporary, they added to Severstal. The metallurgical company expects the market to stabilize over the next few months. “At the same time, interference with market mechanisms in local markets can lead to long-term negative consequences for the Russian economy,” added Severstal.

After the FAS report, quotations of enterprises fell in the range of 3-5% during trading on the Moscow Exchange. Thus, the value of MMK shares fell by more than 4.53%, to 66.1 rubles, Severstal - by 3.5%, to 1.8 thousand rubles, NLMK - by 3.01%, to 270.8 rubles ...

The fortune of Mordashov and his family decreased as of 13:11 Moscow time by $ 457 million, to $ 32.9 billion, Lisin's capital - by $ 300 million, to $ 29.8 billion, Rashnikov's fortune - by $ 539 million, to 12 , $ 7 billion, according to the Forbes Real-Time ranking, which is updated in real time.

Will they pay or not pay?

BCS analysts noted that steelmakers can defend the validity of their pricing policy by appealing to high export prices, since their growth has consistently outpaced prices in the domestic market. According to experts, the sell-off of companies' shares may have a short-term effect, but caution will be guessed in the behavior of investors for some time.

Independent economic expert Anton Shabanov told Kompaniya magazine that without specifics from the department it is impossible to predict whether companies will be able to prove their own innocence. “What is the FAS confidence based on? After all, the point is not that the prices of goods, including metals, have risen. Over the past six months, prices have really grown, this is a global trend, ”Shabanov said. He did not rule out that the FAS may not disclose specific factors that made it possible to suspect the metallurgists of collusion, but decide this directly with the companies themselves.