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Retail Tycoons Join Mega-Rich

The number of dollar billionaires rose by one-third to 50 last year, with retail business owners making it onto the list for the first time, according to a new list of the country's wealthiest people.

The inclusion of retail billionaires among Russia's mega-rich marks a shift in how fortunes are made in the country, with retail heavyweights building their fortune from scratch rather than through inherited wealth, as was the case with oil and metals, according to a report to be published in Monday's edition of financial magazine Finans.
As the retail sector continues to boom, it looks set to continue to add as many as seven new billionaires to the list of the mega-rich next year, said Igor Terentyev, one of the authors. "Retail has become a big surprise," said Terentyev. "Retail trade in its civilized form is only starting, and investors keep in mind the future growth," he said.

A ranking by Forbes for 2004 published last year included 30 billionaires among the country's 100 richest people. Finans counted 39 billionaires for that year.

Leading the trio of retail billionaires is Andrei Rogachyov, a founder of the country's largest supermarket chain, Pyatyorochka, which conducted an initial public offering last May. Finans pegs Rogachev's current fortune at $1.2 billion, up from $300 million last year.

Vodka king Rustam Tariko, who owns private bank Russky Standart, also made the cut with an estimated fortune of $1.16 billion, Finans said. Sergei Galitsky, who founded discount store chain Magnit came in third with $1.05 billion last year.

Russia's only female billionaire, Yelena Baturina, the wife of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzkov, upped her fortune to $1.9 billion from last year's $400 million, the magazine reported.

The number of Russians with over 1 billion rubles or $35 million grew more than 50 percent to 720 last year, including 27 women.

"People are legitimizing their money -- doing away with so-called black or gray schemes," Chris Davies, a partner with AVC Advisory, said of the jump in ruble billionaires.

Russia's Rich List

Place Name Industry Fortune

1 Roman Abramovich Oil $18.7 billion

2 Oleg Deripaska Metals $12.7 billion

3 Mikhail Fridman Oil, banking $11.4 billion

4 Vladimir Lisin Metals $9.3 billion

29 Yelena Baturina Construction $1.9 billion

44 Andrei Rogachyov Retail $1.2 billion

45 Rustam Tariko Retail $1.16 billion

48 Sergei Galitsky Retail $1.05 billion

Source: Finans Magazine


(The Moscow Times 13.ii.06)

 
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