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Russia’s richest man gains US$8.5b leading wealth rebound
[MOSCOW] It has been a very good year for Russia's richest, despite the threat of heightened sanctions against the country.
The 23 titans on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index added US$52.9 billion to their fortunes in 2019, the most in four years, and a rebound after a decline the prior year. Metal magnate Vladimir Potanin, 58, led the group with an US$8.5 billion gain.
Currencies, stocks and bonds rallied in 2019 as the Federal Reserve led global central banks in lowering rates to support flagging growth.
But Russia's equity market, despite sanctions, has performed best globally on a total-return basis in dollar terms, while its currency is the second-best worldwide.
Mr Potanin, Russia's richest person, derives most of his net worth from MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC, the world's largest producer of refined nickel.
Vagit Alekperov added US$6.2 billion since the start of the year. The 69-year-old is the chairman of Lukoil PJSC, Russia's largest independent oil producer. He has a US$22.3 billion fortune.
He's followed by energy moguls Leonid Mikhelson and Gennady Timchenko, who hold Novatek PJSC, Russia's biggest liquefied natural gas producer.
The gains have come despite the threat of increased US sanctions. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a long-discussed bill this month on Russia for meddling in the 2016 election. South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham has called the legislation the "sanctions bill from hell." It's unclear if the measure will proceed to a full vote in the Senate.