Russia may run out of money in 2024, billionaire Deripaska warns

Russian tycoon says Moscow may need to revisit its Asian past to weather the economic storm

Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska. AFP
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Russia could find its coffers empty next year and needs investment from friendly countries to break the hold of sanctions on the economy, billionaire Oleg Deripaska said on Thursday.

“There will be no money already next year,” he said at the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum in Siberia.

“We will need foreign investors."

Mr Deripaska, founder of United Co Rusal International, the biggest aluminum producer outside China, said funds were running low and “that’s why they’ve already begun to shake us down".

They were among the most outspoken comments by a prominent business leader as the government looks to make large companies pay after ending last year with a record fiscal deficit and the budget still deep in the red for the start of 2023.

Authorities are already planning to raise more budget revenue with proposed changes to how they tax oil companies, and they may wrest more money from other commodity producers by means of a one-time levy.

While Russia had a surprise boom in capital spending last year, the outlook has turned more grim, especially as huge military spending strains public finances.

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But even with sanctions and other restrictions squeezing revenues from energy exports, the economy may grow slightly this year, the International Monetary Fund said.

Mr Deripaska, on whom the US imposed sanctions in 2018, was also placed under European penalties after Russia attacked Ukraine a year ago.

He called for peace in the weeks after the invasion but has taken a more cautious line on the war in recent months.

Mr Deripaska said building “state capitalism is not an option” and warned of “serious” pressure from sanctions.

“Russia should keep developing the market economy,” he said.

“A foreign investor will look at how a Russian investor makes money, what conditions exist.”

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Countries with “serious resources” could become partners for Russia, Mr Deripaska said.

The government needs to make sure Russia is attractive for such investors by ensuring a safe business climate with more economic freedoms and competition, he said.

Even with many of the world’s biggest economies against Russia, it still has access to markets, with a population of 4.5 billion and accounting for $30 trillion of global gross domestic product, he said.

“We thought we were a European country,” Mr Deripaska said. “Now, for the next 25 years, we will think more about our Asian past.”

Updated: March 02, 2023, 9:28 PM