Monday, October 13, 2008

The Russians Are Coming!

Russians have been butt of jokes in Hollywood movies as well as media. I have been hearing a lot of stories about hot money from Russia coming into this part of the world.

The famous Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea football club had made his presence known with shrewd investments and startegies.

Recently, a colleague who returned to his adopted home in Prague last summer told me his experience meeting with a Russian mafia group in a bar there. He was sitting at one of the mafia's chairs and was about to be kicked out when suddenly the mafia realised that he was an Arab based in Dubai.

"Arabs and Russians are friends.....not Americans and Dubai is good, no?" And they hit it off nicely even the mafia boss enticed the trembling Arab with loads of Chech ladies and expensive vodkas!

The Russians are coming
By Aleh Tsyvinski and Sergei Guriev, Special to Gulf News

Russia's government is sitting on a giant pile of cash that it plans to invest in foreign assets. The glimpse of its economic muscle was revealed last week when the Prime Minister of Iceland announced that Russia may come with about $5 billion to save its troubled economy. Who could have thought that, given the chaotic Russia of the 1990s, only ten years later it would be in the position to bail out a developed country? Even more surprising is the fact that the helping hand for Iceland comes at a time when the domestic stock market is in a freefall and trading on the Moscow stock exchange is routinely halted.

The Kremlin thinks that now is the time to buy assets cheaply, using the current financial crisis to emerge as a powerful global economic player. As Prime Minister Vladimir Putin remarked at a recent meeting with the CEO of state-owned bank VTB, "Perhaps we should buy something [abroad]? Something that is up for grabs?" According to Arkady Dvorkovich, an economic aide to President Dmitry Medvedev, the government will support - both diplomatically and financially - the expansion of Russian companies abroad.


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