Roman Abramovich, age 40, is the richest man in Russia
The Moscow Times is reporting today that Roman Abramovich, the richest man in Russia, has resigned as Governor of the Far Eastern region of Chuhotka. Abramovich reportedly wanted to spend more time developing his holdings in the metals business.
In addition to the English Premier Soccer League team Chelsea FC, Mr. Abramovich owns 41% of the Russian aluminum giant Evraz. Last month, Evraz announced plans to purchase Oregon Steel for $2.3 billion. The U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment is reviewing the deal by examining possible ties between Evraz and the Russian government.
Abramovich shakes hands with FC Chelsea fans at a match
Mr. Abramovich's resignation was accepted this week at the Kremlin by President Putin, who commended him for boosting the economy of the impoverished Far Eastern region. Mr. Abramovich's charities and former company Sibneft have invested hundreds of millions to create new jobs and infrastructure in Chuhotka.
In 2003 Abramovich sold his 25% stake in the Russian aluminum company Rusal to another oligarch, Oleg Deripaska. Abramovich reportedly netted $13 billion after he sold Sibneft to the state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom in 2005. At that time, some Russian energy analysts believed that Sibneft was actually worth more than double that amount. Since then, Abramovich has returned to the metals business, seeking to expand Evraz through aggressive acquisitions abroad, including the purchase of the Vitkovice steel mill in the Czech Republic and a 75% stake in Italy's Palini e Bertoli steel plant. According to Business Week, the Evraz/Oregon Steel deal would combine the leading manufacturers of rails in Russia and the United States.
Earlier this year, Forbes magazine conservatively estimated Roman Abramovich's net worth at $18.2 billion. In October, the UK Daily Mail reported that the 40 year old father of five may be headed for a nasty divorce from his wife Irina over his relationship with a 23 year old Russian model. John Mann, a spokesman for the Abramovich family in Moscow, has denied the reports.