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Evraz shares halted as Abramovich sanctions spark sell off

Roman Abramovich, who owns Chelsea FC, has around a 30% stake in Evraz and is among those sanctioned. Photo: Alexander Hassenstein/UEFA via Getty Images (Alexander Hassenstein - UEFA via Getty Images)

The Financial Conduct Authority has temporarily halted trading shares in Russian steelmaker Evraz (EVR.L) after new UK sanctions targeting Roman Abramovich sparked a sharp sell-off.

Shares plummeted over 15% on Thursday in early trade in London after measures against the company's biggest shareholder Abramovich, who holds around 30% stake were anounced. They were down 11.7% before trading was stopped.

Britain has ramped up its financial assault on the Kremlin as part of a fresh wave of measures targeting Russian oligarchs.

The government's move targets seven of Russia's wealthiest and most influential tycoons, whose collective net worth is estimated at around $15bn (£11.4bn).

Shares in the steelmaker were down 11.7% to 81.68p when trading was halted. Chart: Yahoo Finance
Shares in the steelmaker were down 11.7% to 81.68p when trading was halted. Chart: Yahoo Finance

This means that their assets in the UK will be frozen, and they can't conduct business with any UK citizen or company. The tycoons are also banned from travelling to the UK.

The sanctions against the billionaire Chelsea FC owner, mean his planned sale of the club will be blocked. Abramovich had confirmed plans to offload the club last week, aiming for a price tag of around £3bn.

Read more: European stocks fall as oil prices cool ahead of ECB rates decision

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) firm was the biggest drag on London's bluechip index, with shares crashing 15.2% to 79.94p following the announcement in early trade on Thursday in London.

Evraz shares crashed 15.2% to 79.94p on Thursday in London. Chart: Yahoo Finance
Evraz shares crashed 15.2% to 79.94p on Thursday in London. Chart: Yahoo Finance

"There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine," said prime minister Boris Johnson.

"We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies."

Abramovich has built up a global empire spanning companies, luxury homes, artwork, cars, private jets and superyachts, alongside his investment in Chelsea Football Club.

The billionaire has an estimated net worth of £9.4bn and also has stakes in mining firm Norilsk Nickel, a Russian nickel and palladium firm. In 2005, he sold a 73% stake in Russian oil firm Sibneft to state-owned gas titan Gazprom (GAZP.ME) for £9.9bn.

However, while he faces sanctions, the English Premier League club can continue to play under a special licence, according to Nadine Dorries, Britain’s minister for sport.

Dorries said the government is "issuing a special licence that will allow fixtures to be fulfilled, staff to be paid and existing ticket holders to attend matches".

Despite the licence, the west London outfit and Abramovich are prohibited from profiting from club merchandise sales, meaning Chelsea will be forced to shutter its club shop.

Transfers and loan deals for players are also banned, while costs of travel to games cannot exceed £20,000.

It comes a day after the vertically integrated steel, mining and vanadium business played down its links to the Kremlin and said it hadn't granted any loans to the oligarch.

Evraz also scrapped its interim dividend on Wednesday, which would have returned cash to Abramovich.

The list also includes, industrialist Oleg Deripaska, who holds a stake in miner EN+, Dmitri Lebedev, chairman of the board of directors of Bank Rossiya, and president Vladimir Putin’s close ally Igor Sechin and three more of Putin’s inner circle.

Read more: How economic sanctions work

Evraz's most recent annual results showed revenue and profit for 2021 beat expectations, with total segment revenues increasing to $14.2bn year-on-year, up from $9.75bn.

The steelmaker turned a net profit of £3.1bn in 2021, up from £858m in the year before. Free cash flow more than doubled to $2.26bn from $1.02bn.

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