Oleg Deripaska is removed from the steering wheel of the GAZ Group

The US can withdraw from the businessman sanctions if he refuses control in the GAZ group.
Washington continues to systematically oust from the business of the state-sponsored list of Oleg Deripaska. The US Treasury is now ready to lift sanctions from the GAZ Group if the businessman loses control over it. A similar scenario is already being implemented in other key assets of Mr. Deripaska - En + and "Rusal". At the same time, the GAZ group itself tries to defend its positions at least in the domestic market, demanding that the government, against the background of sanctions pressure, not provide the US with privileges to its direct competitors. But so far these attempts have not yielded results.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Finance Ministry reported on May 22 that sanctions against the GAZ Group could be lifted if Oleg Deripaska "lost control" in it (over 60% of the businessman owns the Russian cars). On the same day, OFAC extended the deadline for the completion of contracts with the GAZ Group and the companies controlled by it until October 23 (General License No. 15). Earlier similar relief was provided by the US Treasury under contracts with Deripaska-controlled "RusAl" (its En + Group holds 48.13% of shares and control over the shareholders' agreement). Sanctions against Rusal may also be withdrawn if the businessman gives control to the company.

At the end of April, En + reported that the businessman, who got along with his key assets on the SDN list on April 6, agreed in principle with the proposal of the head of the board of directors of Lord Gregory Barker's group to reduce his share in the group below 50% (now about 66%) and exit council. Mr. Deripaska also agrees with the need to update the board at the expense of independent directors. On May 18, En + said that Oleg Deripaska had left her board of directors and pledged not to be re-elected to the board of directors of Rusal. The shareholders of Rusal will consider updating the board at the annual meeting (also involving independent directors). En + clarified that the "Barker plan" presupposes the release of "Rusal" from sanctions due to the decrease in the share of Oleg Deripaska in En + and the appointment of most independent directors to the board. Kommersant sources said earlier that shareholders of RusAl - En +, Sual Partners Viktor Vekselberg and Leonard Blavatnik (26.5%) and Glencore (8.75%) - are discussing the rupture of the shareholder agreement, but in the En + message it was stressed that the lord Barker, in accordance with the agreement, nominates in the board of "Rusal" independent director En + Philip Mailefeyt.

Whether Oleg Deripaska is ready to repeat this in the situation with the GAZ group is not yet clear. In the group GAZ and Basel (managing the businessman's assets) declined to comment, the representative of Mr. Deripaska did not answer the calls of Kommersant.

At the same time, before the release of OFAC messages it became known that the group had offered the Ministry of Economy to support its business taking into account the sanctions. In a letter to the ministry, GAZ requests that new spetsinvestcontracts not be agreed in the car industry before the adoption of a new investment regime and focus on developing a plan for accelerated import substitution, Interfax reported on Tuesday. In the letter, the group taking into account the sanctions (the company was included in the list of key assets of Oleg Deripaska who, like the businessman himself, came under US sanctions in early April) insists on the need to develop new stringent requirements for investors in localizing production, and also offers a program for the development of key domestic automotive components as the basis for a new investment regime. The GAZ Group also considers the "timely" initiative of the Ministry of Industry and Trade to develop a concept for a new investment regime, which should substantially tighten the criteria for recognizing the Russian equipment manufactured in Russia.

Specinvestcontracts (SPIC) - developed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and used in recent years, a special regime that involves the conclusion of a contract between the investor, federal and regional authorities. The company undertakes to invest a certain amount in production, create new jobs, and in exchange the authorities give it tax privileges for ten years.

GAZ Group recommended that the Ministry of Economy substantially increase the minimum allowable amount of investments within the framework of the SPIC (now such a contract can be obtained with an investment of about 1 billion rubles). "According to the experience of the GAZ Group, the creation of a line of light and medium-duty commercial vehicles, even with own production facilities, requires investments of at least 20 billion rubles. only at the level of cars, - says the letter of the concern, - while local component production for the two families has a minimum investment threshold of about 35 billion rubles. "

According to Kommersant, the catalyst for sending a letter from the GAZ group was the preparation of the SPIC by competitors - Sollers Vadim Shvetsov and Japanese Isuzu, who will assemble commercial vehicles in Russia with a carrying capacity of 3.5-48 tons on the site in the Ulyanovsk region. The total investment in the project will exceed 6 billion rubles. The production will make about 7 thousand cars a year, and about 30% will be sold for export through the distribution network Isuzu. As reported by "Kommersant" on May 15, according to the SPIC, the joint venture has been locating gearboxes, engines, frames and stamping since 2023, and since 2025 - electronic control units and ADAS systems. Also the source of "Kommersant" then noted that the deepening of localization will go not at the expense of the Japanese, but on the basis of the Zavolzhsky motor plant of the Sollers group, which produces engines and transmissions. Other interlocutors of Kommersant in the industry considered it unfair that the main investments are planned from 2023, and five years before that, the investor will have "the opportunity to make a low-localized product and enjoy the same preferences as high-caliber players." In fact, other owners of SPIKs (Daimler, Mazda Sollers) already work under similar conditions.

Then the GAZ Group insisted that "the rules of the game should be the same for everyone." According to the company, the new foreign player "simply physically unable to fulfill", discussed but still not accepted the "tough" requirements of the new investment regime in the automobile industry. In a letter to the Ministry of Economy, the concern expressed confidence that the Soklersa and Isuzu SPIK did not have a deep localization, and cited the fact that with a wide range of equipment (light and medium-tonnage commercial vehicles, heavy trucks), the volume of investments was only about 5 billion rubles. At the same time, it was considered in the group that the SPIC was concluded against the background of excess capacity in the Russian Federation, in the segment there is also a GAZ group that fell under American sanctions. In such circumstances, the support of the Sollers and Isuzu project, according to GAZ, is "counterproductive" and directed against them. The source of Kommersant, who is familiar with the situation, notes that the Ministry of Industry does not take into account the interests of existing investors.

The letter also noted the need for "real localization of components that provide the main functions of cars, assuming the existence of rights to intellectual property and its own technological base." These components in the GAZ group include the engine, gearboxes, control systems, driving bridges, steering and brakes. "Dependence on foreign know-how on the most sensitive high-tech components should also be excluded," the document says.

In the GAZ group declined to comment, "Sollers" did not respond to "Kommersant". A source familiar with the situation, Kommersant notes that the contract with direct competitors was signed in parallel with the development of support for the GAZ Group, aimed, perhaps, at preserving its market share. He says that the Ministry of Industry and Trade did not hold consultations with the concern to reduce the impact of the contract on the company. The interlocutor of Kommersant also notes that the GAZ Group requested further non-transparent contracts in existing segments, as well as to propose rules for greater transparency of the contracts being concluded.