Russia billionaires' league halves in year: Finans

Fri Feb 13, 2009 2:39pm EST
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By Dmitry Zhdannikov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The number of Russian billionaires has halved in a year to 49 as the financial crisis destroyed the fortunes of bankers, developers and retailers, Russian magazine Finans' said on Friday.

Last year, with 101 dollar billionaires on the Finans' rich list, Russia trailed only the U.S. as a home for the mega-rich, as record oil and metals prices fueled a decade-long economic rise.

But a collapse in commodity and stock prices, a 35 percent rouble devaluation and high inflation have made Russian billionaires more scarce now than in 2007 and 2006, when Finans counted 61 and 50, respectively.

Finans said the list would be published on Monday. It said the main losers included developers Sergei Polonsky of Mirax, and Kirill Pisarev and Yury Zhukov of PIK Group.

Also dropping off the list are banker Ruben Vardanyan, core owner of Troika Dialog brokerage, Vyacheslav Kantor, of fertiliser firm Acron, and Alexander Mamut, who owns part of gold and silver miner Polymetal.

Finans publishes its list two months ahead of the benchmark U.S. Forbes' Russia list. Last year, it was the first to put metals magnate Oleg Deripaska on top, with $40 billion, ahead of Roman Abramovich. Deripaska also topped the Forbes list.

Deripaska's empire, which spreads from aluminum to construction, now faces major challenges as the Kremlin-friendly businessman struggles to refinance debts. He has lost assets in Canada and Germany put up as collateral on bank debts.

Deripaska himself has long argued that calculations of his fortune were wrong as they did not count his debts, which are estimated -- though not confirmed by Deripaska -- at over $20 billion.   Continued...

<p>Sergei Polonsky, co-owner of Russian developer Mirax, during a news conference in Moscow, February 11, 2009. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin</p>