A billion dollars not enough for Russian rich list

MOSCOW Fri Apr 18, 2008 9:31am EDT

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska attends an economic forum in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, February 15, 2008. Deripaska, who controls aluminum producer United Company RUSAL among a host of infrastructure, energy and financial assets, tops the latest Forbes 100 richest Russians list with a fortune of $28.6 billion -- $11.8 billion more than he was worth last year. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska attends an economic forum in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, February 15, 2008. Deripaska, who controls aluminum producer United Company RUSAL among a host of infrastructure, energy and financial assets, tops the latest Forbes 100 richest Russians list with a fortune of $28.6 billion -- $11.8 billion more than he was worth last year.

Credit: Reuters/Ilya Naymushin

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - One billion dollars is no longer enough to gain entry to Russia's rich list.

Ten billionaires failed to make Forbes magazine's annual list of the 100 richest Russians that is dominated by those who built their fortunes on the country's metals resources.

Oleg Deripaska, who controls aluminum producer United Company RUSAL among a host of infrastructure, energy and financial assets, tops the latest Forbes list with a fortune of $28.6 billion -- $11.8 billion more than he was worth last year.

Deripaska, 40, replaces Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich, who drops to third. The two are split by Alexei Mordashov, majority owner of Severstal (CHMF.MM), Russia's largest steel maker.

"After the bankruptcy of YUKOS and the strengthening of the state's position in the energy sector, you can count on one hand the number of oil and gas billionaires," said Maxim Kashulinsky, editor of Forbes' Russian edition.

"The main fortunes are concentrated now in metallurgy, finance and property."

One fifth of the top 100 have an interest in mining and metals. Mordashov, 42, was the biggest gainer among Russia's richest, adding $12.4 billion to more than double his fortune to $24.5 billion.

Forty-one-year-old Abramovich, in third place, is worth $24.3 billion.

Another steel baron, Novolipetsk Steel (NLMKq.L) owner Vladimir Lisin, is fourth with a fortune of $23.9 billion.

Forbes said that Russia's richest 100 people had a combined fortune of $522 billion -- 3.8 times more than the total when Forbes first published a Russian list in 2004.

Russia has 50 more billionaires than a year ago -- 110 compared with 60. This year $1.1 billion was required to break into the top 100, compared with $660 million a year ago.

Another reason for the increase in dollar billionaires, Forbes said, was the fall in the value of the U.S. currency.

COMMODITIES BOOM

Forbes noted a sharp rise in the price of Russia's main export commodities: oil, gas, metals, fertilizer and coal.

"The consumer boom is continuing," Forbes said in an editorial. "The financial crisis and decline in global stocks has blurred the picture a little, but has not undermined the prosperity of the richest Russians."

There are still some oil billionaires in the top 10: LUKOIL (LKOH.MM) head Vagit Alekperov is in ninth place, while TNK-BP TNBPI.RTS shareholders Mikhail Fridman and German Khan also feature in the top ten.

Metals, however, dominate: Norilsk Nickel (GMKN.MM) co-owners Mikhail Prokhorov and Vladimir Potanin hold fifth and sixth positions respectively, Polymetal PMTLq.L owner Suleiman Kerimov is eighth and Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (MAGN.MM) chairman Viktor Rashnikov 11th.

Igor Zyuzin's fortune grew to $13 billion on the back of record coal prices and several acquisitions by the Mechel (MTL.N) company he controls.

Zyuzin shares 12th position in the list with Dmitry Rybolovlev, the largest shareholder in potash miner Uralkali (URKA.MM), whose shares are trading at record highs on the back of a global boom in mineral fertilizer prices.

(Reporting by Robin Paxton; Editing by Andrew Hurst and Erica Billingham)

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