Russia Warns Nigeria Over Alscon Court Ruling

A decision by Nigeria’s Supreme Court to strip Russian aluminum giant RusAl of its ownership of its Nigerian aluminum processing plant may harm economic cooperation with Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

“The decision by the Nigerian Supreme Court on Alscon (Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria) may damage investment and economic cooperation between Russia and Nigeria,” the ministry said.

Moscow has urged the Nigerian authorities to “take measures to prevent possible damage to existing relations with Russia,” in the wake of the Alscon decision.

Nigeria’s Supreme Court ruled on July 6 that the sale of Alscon to the Russian aluminum giant in 2007 was illegal, arguing US-based firm BFI Group had offered double the sum Rusal had offered for the enterprise.

RusAl bought 77.5 percent of Alscon in 2007 for $250 million, and later increased its stake to 85 percent, and then overhauled the plant in 2008 after it had lain inactive for eight years. The Alscon enterprise, which includes a 120,000 ton capacity aluminum plant, gas-fired power station and a port, is one of RusAl’s core assets in Africa.

BFI Group emerged as the preferred bidder for Alscon in 2004, but was later disqualified by Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprise.

In 2009 Nigeria’s Senate initiated an investigation into state property sales and said the 77.5 percent stake bought by RusAl was worth $3.2 billion, but the Russian company had at that time paid only $130 million for it. In December 2011 the Senate voted to abolish the sale of 12 state companies including Alscon, because their privatization scheme was “illegal.”

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