Future Minerals Forum update
Comment of the Day

January 11 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Future Minerals Forum update

Eoin Treacy's view

This year’s event has proven to be as educative an experience for me as last year’s. I had the great pleasure to sit down with one of the media minister’s advisors today. She made the decision to move home to Saudi Arabia to pursue her career, following time studying in the UK and USA, and living in Egypt.

In a country where the religious police held a great deal of power until quite recently, the increasing ability of women to find gainful and fulfilling employment is a major achievement. No one is under any illusion that such rapid social change is easy or that older generations are comfortable with the degree of freedom afforded younger generations but change is happening.

The four-day rave in the desert which attracted 700,000 people is another example of how much social change is happening in the Kingdom. 

It was also enlightening to hear the minister for investment talk about how the government was not responsible for the economy’s success but that the vibrant private sector should be thanked. That’s not something we hear often enough in emerging markets.

I also had the pleasure of sitting down with Vitaly Nesis, the CEO of Polymetal. As a miner with 70% of production and all its processing in Russia, the company is facing some particular challenges. They are planning an investor day in a couple of weeks in London, where Nesis will be available to answer questions.

However, the upshot of the conversation is they are planning something akin to a demerger. The Russian assets will continue to trade in Russia’s, now illiquid, market. The Kazakhstan assets will trade on the local exchange and dividends will be paid through that vehicle. They do not expect UK prime brokers to offer a market in the shares and could be forced to delist from the LSE.

He made the point that they are looking at South Africa’s apartheid-era dual-listing regime as an example of how companies survived lengthy periods when their host country was under sanctions. Perhaps the biggest takeaway was he is not at all optimistic about the prospects of Russia’s relationship with the rest of the world improving or that the Ruble’s strength is sustainable as sanctions bite.

I’ll have more to report tomorrow and not least as I expect to talk with some Egyptian friends about the decision to allow the Pound to float.

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