British chairman of Polymetal among foreign execs quitting Russian firms By Reuters | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A small toy figure and gold imitation are seen in front of the Polymetal logo in this illustration taken November 19, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

By Sachin Ravikumar

(Reuters) -Multiple board members at Russian firms including the British chairmen of gold and silver producer Polymetal and metals and hydropower group En+ have quit amid the escalating conflict in Ukraine.

Polymetal said on Monday that Chairman Ian Cockerill and five other non-executive independent directors — Ollie Oliveira, Tracey Kerr, Italia Boninelli, Victor Flores and Andrea Abt — had left the London-listed company’s board, effective immediately.

Polymetal gave no further details but the departures come amid concerns over the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions on Russia.

Directors are realizing that “the optics of being linked to these businesses are toxic,” Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said.

“As soon as the (British) Institute of Directors, hardly an organization known for its radicalism, pushed for Britons involved to take the jump this mass exodus was almost an inevitability,” Mould said.

The Institute of Directors, a British corporate lobby group, last week called on British directors to no longer be involved in governance roles in the Russian economy.

Polymetal’s London-listed shares had fallen 85% over the last two weeks, although they rebounded in early trade on Monday. The London Stock Exchange said it cancelled some trades in Polymetal on Monday.

Meanwhile, En+ Chairman Gregory Barker is also stepping down after more than four years in the role, the company announced on Monday. Barker is a former British minister from the Conservative Party and several senior British politicians have said he should fully cut links with En+ and its sanctioned billionaire Russian founder Oleg Deripaska, the Sunday Times reported. Another En+ board member, independent director Joan MacNaughton, also resigned.

However, Barker will be replaced by Christopher Bancroft Burnham, who is a U.S. national.

Barker could lead a new company that En+ is considering carving out from its aluminium business Rusal, Bloomberg News reported on Friday.

Russian steelmaker Evraz said on Monday that non-executive director Sandra Stash was leaving its board with immediate effect. It did not provide a reason for the exit.

Shares in London-listed Evraz have tumbled nearly 80% over the last two weeks but recovered some losses on Monday and were up 45% by 1000 GMT. The broader London market was down sharply. ()

Polymetal’s shares were last up 41% at 239.3 pence, having surged to a high of 1,400 pence in early trading.

Polymetal also said in its statement that its website may be temporarily unavailable due to a recent cyber attack.

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