Abramovich: The Billionaire from Nowhere

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 June, 2005, 12:00am

Abramovich: The Billionaire from Nowhere


by Dominic Midgley and Chris Hutchins


HarperCollins $120


Last April, Forbes Russia ranked 38-year-old Roman Abramovich as Russia's richest person, estimated to be worth US$14.7 billion. His business empire, mostly built on his stake in oil company Sibneft, stretches from the cosy clubs of London to Siberia's frozen expanse. That empire includes the Chelsea Football Club, which he acquired in 2003 for #140 million (about $2 billion), then spent a further #110 million buying players to win the hearts of Chelsea fans with their first Premiership in 50 years. Abramovich is one of Russia's shadowy oligarchs who emerged under Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s. Who is this man? Despite impressive research, journalists Dominic Midgley and Chris Hutchins can report only the facts, written at risk of writ. The duo is cautious about conclusions, hedging and qualifying whenever the story ventures into the murky world of Russian business. Abramovich has been fully revised for this paperback edition, and includes Chelsea declaring the biggest ever financial loss for a Premiership team. But #88 million is loose change for the richest man in all the Russias.