Here’s the choice? You accept around Â£7bn for your shares in a company you bought for Â£100mn ten years ago, and accept another term as governor of the remote Siberian province Chukotka, or you follow in the footsteps of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and serve time in one of Russia’s finest prisons.
No one is actually saying that the choice was that clear cut. Vladamir Putin has been insisting for some time that Roman Abramovich is safe, but there is a hint that the Â£7.4bn the state owned Gazprom forked out for 72.7% of Sibneft yesterday, was a tad below the true market value.
But then again, since Roman’s share in the stake sold was estimated to be around 80%, and since he will also get around Â£1.7bn in dividends this year, it seems unlikely he will be drowning his sorrows in vodka.
The Russian leader wants Russia to exert true influence on the world again. It might not be the super power it once was, but at least it’s got oil and gas, and with the buyout, it’s thought that Gazprom now controls around 30% of oil pumped in Russia, and 20% of the world’s gas production.
As for Roman. Earlier this year, Forbes magazine estimated his wealth at $14bn, and said at the time that “everything his hands touch turns into crisp notes.” But there seems to be some confusion as to whether the money he will make from this transaction will come on top of this estimate of wealth, or is already allowed for. The Independent, for example, said that the sell-off will catapult his wealth from the Â£8.3bn before the deal to Â£15.9bn.
Some are saying that Mr Abramovich is to sever his links with Russia now. He did after all sell his stake in Rusal, the country’s third largest aluminium producer, two years ago, and he has very few interests left in his home country.
But, on the other hand, it is thought that before agreeing the deal, Vlad impaled Roman with the task of staying in his role as governor of Chukotka for another term. He is almost as popular in the remote Russian province as he is at Stamford Bridge. The Chukotka’s know him as uncle Roman, and since he took on the governorship in 2000 has invested Â£730 million in local infrastructure such as schools and hospitals. To much acclaim he even paid for local schoolchildren to take holidays to the Black Sea.
So now, Roman, as one Russian analyst said, “is getting enough money to keep 15 generations of Abramoviches.” But the question fans of ‘chelski’ want answering, is this: Is it enough money to pay for 15 generations of Frank Lampards?
© Investment & Business News 2013