News & Analysis

Roman Abramovich's EVRAZ steel empire becomes big-cap gainer on LSE

Andrew Saks, Friday, 6 August 2021

Roman Abramovich was always one of the more popular oligarchs during his time as a resident of London; his presence in the capital often being characterised by his ownership of Chelsea Football Club and frequent appearances exiting the rear seat of his chauffeur-driven car at various luxury addresses between Sloane Square and Belgravia.

Mr Abramovich may have long since departed from the shores of the United Kingdom, but his business legacy is going from strength to strength, this time in the form of Evraz PLC, the publicly listed vertically integrated steel making and mining company of whose stock he owns 30%.

Evraz, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, has gained the attention of investors this week and is one of the biggest gainers on London's markets, having risen 3.11% since the market opening this morning, meaning that Evraz stock is up 19 points compared with yesterday's close.

Perhaps one of the driving factors may be yesterday's announcement by Evraz that it plans to build a new vanadium slag processing factory in Russia, at a cost of $228 million.

Precious metals are currently piquing the interest of many investors and traders, and vanadium is one such resource that is currently trading at high values, demonstrating the high demand for products made from the material.

Evraz, which on yesterday reported first-half results for this financial year, stated that global vanadium demand rose by 16% year-on-year in the first half of 2021, on the back of a strong recovery in steel output. Demand in China alone increased by 20%, driven by higher rebar production and growing demand for vanadium-based energy storage.

That is very much in line with the findings of many other precious metal extraction and mining companies and is borne out by the commodities brokers' volumes too. Vanadium, along with palladium, titanium and copper are all in high demand this year.

In the United Kingdom, so valuable are certain metals that catalytic converters from the exhaust systems of cars are being stolen in numbers not seen since the 1990s.

Founded in 1992 in Moscow, Evraz Group went global in 2005 by floating 8.3% of its shares in the form of GDR in London. The company was priced at $14.50 per GDR implying an equity value of $5.15 billion at that time, and has grown significantly since, expanding across the world, and having an operating income of $1.7 billion as of last year.

Russia is a vast nation which is rich in minerals and natural resources, the extraction and refinement of which make up the largest contributor to Russia's national economy. Most of the companies engaged in extraction of oil, gas and precious metals in Russia are owned either directly by the state or are publicly listed but with Vladimir Putin personally holding a large interest.

This is not the case for Evraz, which is a genuine multinational, with operations expanding beyond Russia's borders to Europe, North America and China, a feat that would perhaps not be possible if it had not moved its headquarters to London, largely due to the high level of sanctions imposed by many nations on the government and economic structure of Russia.

Given this advantage, and that Evraz is an expert in its field globally, it could be considered a small version of Rio Tinto; it's that credible.

Mr Abramovich is likely surveying this from his home in Tel Aviv with relaxed candour, and likely won't be contemplating selling a yacht or two anytime soon.

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