ABOVE: Hard-headed businessmen (from left): Peter Munk, the Canadian founder and chairman of the world’s largest gold-producing corporation, Lord Mandelson, oligarch Oleg Deripaska and financier Nat Rothschild as they visit the Siberian smelter.
Siberia in January is a very cold place indeed. What relief, then, for four weary travellers to be able to warm themselves in front of the furnace of an enormous smelter — all wearing hard hats bearing the corporate logo of Rusal, the world’s largest aluminium producer.
One of the men is Oleg Deripaska, the controversial Russian oligarch and boss of Rusal. He owns the gigantic Sayanogorsk plant near the tundra city of Abakan.
At his side is his youthful British friend and adviser, the Honourable Nat Rothschild. A billionaire financier in his own right.
A third member of the party is Peter Munk, the Canadian founder and chairman of the world’s largest gold-producing corporation. Mr Munk is a business partner of Deripaska and Rothschild.
And the smiling man at the centre of this high-powered group?
None other than Peter (now Lord) Mandelson, architect of the New Labour project, former close adviser to Tony Blair and Business Secretary in Gordon Brown’s Cabinet.
At the time these photographs were taken, in January 2005, Mandelson was the EU Trade Commissioner.
But for all the formal poses, hard hats, heavy industrial surroundings and tycoon entourage, Mandelson was in Siberia on a very unofficial basis…