The London-listed Russian steel and mining business Evraz has given investors a $1.55bn (£1.2bn) dividend, worth approximately $450m to its shareholder Roman Abramovich, but warned profits could be affected by economic sanctions aimed at the Kremlin and its allies.

The company reported a 45% rise revenues to $14.1bn in 2021, primarily from the sale of steel but also from coal, while pre-tax profit more than trebled from $1.3bn to $4.2bn.

The result was founded on rising prices, amid soaring demand for steel as the global economy rebounds from the impact of Covid-19.

However, the company, whose operations are largely based in Russia, warned it could suffer the effects if the UK, US and Europe step up sanctions against Russian entities in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Evraz has not been included on the list of sanctioned Russian companies, such as the airline Aeroflot and VTB Bank.

Speaking on a conference call, at which journalists were not permitted to ask questions, the chief finance officer, Nikolay Ivanov, said it was too soon to say whether the company would be affected by sanctions, including any impact on its lending banks.

“Currently, we are analysing the impact of potential sanctions imposed just last night,” he said. “We believe it will not have significant impact on the company.”

However, in its annual report, Evraz said “policies adopted by the Russian government” had increased uncertainty and the risk of the imposition of sanctions, which could have an adverse affect on the business.

The company has also run a simulation of how sanctions could affect profits, including the potential loss of all exports outside the Russian-influenced Commonwealth of Independent States.

It said it could be forced to defer dividends, which would potentially mean a cut in the annual income of the billionaire owner of Chelsea football club, Abramovich, who owns 29% of Evraz.

The company gave investors a dividend of $1.55bn this year, of which Abramovich is entitled to just under $450m.

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Abramovich has not been a target for sanctions. Contacted by the Guardian last week, lawyers for the billionaire said Evraz did not fit the criteria for potential designation for sanctions. They added: “It would be ludicrous to suggest that our client has any responsibility or influence over the behaviour of the Russian state.”

Evraz has previously held multiple assets in Ukraine but disposed of them in 2018.

Referring to the war in its financial results, the company said: “While there have not been direct impacts on the group to date, the board continues to monitor the situation in Ukraine and the response of international governments.”

The Guardian has approached Evraz for further comment.

Shares in Evraz were up almost 20% on Friday afternoon, making it the top riser on the FTSE 100.


Rob Davies

The GuardianTramp

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