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Evraz warns over impact of Ukraine unrest

Steel giant said operations in Ukraine not affected by the recent unrest but signals "contingency plans" for a change in circumstances

Evraz, the London Stock Exchange-listed steel company where Roman Abramovich is the biggest shareholder, today declared it had not been affected yet by sanctions but said it was preparing "contingency plans" for a change in circumstances.

The company, of which the Chelsea FC owner owns about 30 per cent, saw its shares fall more than 2 per cent, by 2.4p to 111.5p, this morning after disappointing some investors with a net profit of $1 million in the first half of the year compared with a loss of $146 million in the same period last year, affected by one-off reorganisation costs.

Like other steel firms, Evraz - Russia's biggest - has been hit by massive oversupply and waning demand in China. It said its operations in Ukraine had not been affected by the unrest there.

Its reorganisation allowed it to cut its debts 7 per cent to $6billion from this stage last year.

Evraz earlier this month raised $425m from European lenders including ING, Deutsche Bank, Nordea, Societe Generale and Raiffeisen in a move that eased concerns somewhat about Russian businesses' ability to raise funds in the west.

However, bigger companies have still struggled. Only yesterday, two major Russian oil firms, Rosneft and Lukoil, turned to a local Russian bank for loans after struggling to obtain financing in Europe.

Last month, Evraz paid a one-off dividend to shareholders of $90.4m - of which around $30m went to Abramovich - reflecting the cash portion of the proceeds of its sale of a steel business, but there was no half year dividend today.