Wall Street firms are in a quandary about getting involved with a planned public offering of Russian aluminum producer UC RUSAL because its founder has been barred from getting a U.S. visa on account of allegations that he is connected to organized crime, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, the newspaper reported that Goldman Sachs Group Inc
Billionaire Oleg Deripaska has denied links to organized crime and has never been charged with a crime, according to the report.
The sources said that Goldman had been unable to get comfortable with risks linked to the deal in the accelerated time frame, according to the report.
On Wednesday, sources with direct knowledge of the deal told Reuters that RUSAL, the world's largest aluminum producer, would seek Hong Kong listing committee approval soon, hoping to raise around $2 billion through a dual listing. The sources said RUSAL also planned to list in Euronext Paris.
They said the primary listing would occur in Hong Kong, the secondary listing in Paris.
RUSAL hopes to begin trading in December, though the IPO is contingent on progress with its debt restructuring, set to conclude by mid-November, the sources said.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that with the IPO looming, Deripaska had traveled to the U.S. twice in the past few months using entry permits arranged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with whom he met during his visits. The newspaper cited people familiar with the trips and said the FBI had declined to comment.
Deripaska also met with several Wall Street executives, including Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley's
The report quoted one person as saying that Wall Street firms were just not comfortable sponsoring Deripaska.
Bank of America Corp's
It said that Deripaska had confirmed, through a spokesman, the recent U.S. trips, but declined to comment on his visa status other than to say that he faces no limits on travel to any country. The newspaper cited a State Department official as saying that Deripaska does not hold a U.S. visa.
RUSAL is urgently trying to reach a deal with its foreign creditors on $7.3 billion of debt. Senior bankers told Reuters last month that RUSAL had to reach agreement with its foreign creditors by mid-November if the company's IPO was to proceed.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the offering's two lead managers are Credit Suisse Group
(Reporting by Kyle Peterson; Editing by Toni Reinhold)