Thursday, November 17, 2011

Oleg Deripaska, and the Russian rise of the oligarchs



Twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian business is dominated by a handful of men known simply as the oligarchs.

In the 1990s many of them carved up Russia’s newly privatized state-owned assets. Huge fortunes were built as the Red Empire collapses around them, and Russian oligarchs joined the world’s super rich.

Among them is Oleg Deripaska. He was still a student at the start of the 1990s, but his rise was meteoric. By the end of the decade, the nuclear physics graduate from Moscow State University controlled most of Russia’s aluminum industry and his company, Rusal, is now the world’s biggest producer.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, he talks about the role of Russia in the EU crisis, and whether Russia is underperforming the rest of the developing world.

“No, never,” said Deripaska, asked whether Russia should help the debt-laden eurozone.

“Russia should deal with our own problem – lack of infrastructure, development in Siberia and the Far East, more emphasis on agriculture and development of agricultural food processing,” he said. “Europe will benefit from our strong market and our opportunity to invest in Russia.”

He points out that the Russian economy is on track for more than 4 percent growth this year, and a government debt to GDP ratio that stands below 12%, and total foreign debt to GDP ratio that is below 30%. more