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Abramovich slips down Russia s rich list

MOSCOW, Feb 14, 2011 – Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich is no longer one of Russia\’s three richest men after being outranked by oligarchs who benefit from recovering oil and commodity prices, a report said Monday.

The 2011 rich list compiled by Moscow\’s Finans magazine put Abramovich\’s wealth at $17.1 billion, up only $100 million in a year that saw some of Russia\’s other 114 billionaires make far more dramatic gains.

Vladimir Lisin, the publicity-shy owner of the Novolipetsk Steel giant, retained his position as Russia\’s wealthiest man, seeing his fortune soar to $28.3 billion from $18.8 billion in 2010.

He was followed by Onexim investment fund owner Mikhail Prokhorov at $22.7 billion and Alisher Usmanov, the part-owner of Arsenal Football Club, whose wealth was estimated by Finans at $19.9 billion.

Abramovich slipped to fifth behind Oleg Deripaska, the majority shareholder in steel maker UC Rusal whose empire was worth $19 billion, Finans said.

Russia\’s biggest tycoons — many of whom made their fortunes in the chaotic privatizations of the 1990s and then accrued major political influence — were hit hard by the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008.

But the country\’s billionaires have been making a steady recovery, with their ranks swelling from 49 to 77 in 2010.

Each of the 500 people on the 2011 list was worth at least $160 million, the report said.

Abramovich, owner of the Millhouse LLC investment company, slipped out of the top three because he has "many \’social\’ obligations to people loyal to (Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin and the government as a whole," Finans said.

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It noted that Abramovich has been called on in the past to help finance various Russian construction projects.

More recently, Abramovich sold a 25 percent stake in Russia\’s biggest television service to an ally of Putin for just $150 million — less than the price he himself paid for the stake in 2001, the magazine said.

Finans also noted that Abramovich was hurt by the weak recovery of the European property market.

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