The sources said Deripaska’s representatives were in discussions with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which oversees sanctions, to establish if the maneuver would be deemed enough to remove the companies from the sanctions blacklist.
“It’s one of the options being discussed now with OFAC,” said one of the sources.
A U.S. Treasury official, asked about any discussions with Deripaska’s representatives on him reducing his stake, said OFAC does not generally comment on ongoing discussions about sanctions relief.
“OFAC reviews each request based on the facts and circumstances of the case and individual merits,” the official said.
Underlining the depth of the difficulties facing Deripaska’s firms, a Russian government source said that Rusal had asked the Russian government to buy some of its output.
Since sanctions hit, stocks of aluminum ingots have been stacking up at at least one Rusal plant, because buyers have canceled orders.
The government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Deripaska had also applied for loans for Rusal from Russian lender Promsvyazbank.
The bank is under the control of the Russian central bank and has been earmarked by the Kremlin to provide finance to sanctioned Russian firms, a task most regular banks will not undertake because of the sanctions risk.
Deripaska also sought state support for automaker GAZ, which is part of his business empire and has also been affected by the sanctions, the government source said.
Russian authorities have approved a loan for GAZ, but no decision has yet been made on the loan request for Rusal, according to the source.
Rusal did not reply to a Reuters request for comment on requests for state help.