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Roman Abramovich

From Academic Kids

Roman Arkadievich Abramovich (Russian: Рома́н Арка́дьевич Абрамо́вич) (born October 24, 1966 in Saratov, Russian SFSR, USSR) is a Russian oil billionaire, referred to as one of the Russian oligarchs. In March 2005 he was listed by Forbes Magazine as the richest Russian and the 21st richest person in the world with an estimated fortune of $13.3 billion. Everyone above him in the list was older than him; the only one of those within a decade of his age was computer magnate Michael Dell, 20 months older. He is most famous outside of Russia as the owner of Chelsea F.C., an English Premiership football club.

Abramovich lost his mother at the age of 18 months, his father subsequently being killed in a construction accident when Abramovich was a child of four years. Adopted by his paternal uncle and raised by his Jewish family in the harsh environment of Komi in North West Russia, Abramovich has been able to transform hardship into significant success.

Abramovich attended the Industrial Institute in the city of Ukhta before being drafted into the Soviet Army, the Soviet military ground force.

Abramovich gained his wealth by cheaply acquiring shares in newly-privatised industries after the fall of communism. He is now the majority shareholder in Sibneft, a large oil company, and is also a major shareholder in RusAl, the world's second-largest aluminium producer, as well as various other companies.

In 1999 Abramovich was elected to the Russian Duma as the representative for the impoverished Far East region of Chukotka. He started the charity Pole of Hope to help the people of Chukotka, especially children, and in December 2000 was elected governor of Chukotka, replacing the corrupt Alexander Nazarov. Since then he has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Chukotka, for example building a college and hotels in Anadyr and renovating the airport. He has also used Chukotka as a tax haven for Sibneft and has been exploring for oil there. Abramovich said that he would not run for governor again after his term of office expires in 2005, as it is "too expensive" - and he rarely visits the region - but since then Russian President Vladimir Putin has changed the law to abolish elections for regional governors, so it is possible that Putin could appoint Abramovich governor for another term.

In 2003 he became the owner of the companies that control Chelsea Football Club in the United Kingdom. Since he took control, Chelsea (sometimes humorously termed Chelski by British tabloids) have gone on a buying spree of some of the game's most skilled players. The result was near-instant success, with Chelsea spending the 2003-2004 season at or near the top of the Premiership (finishing second to Arsenal) and doing well in the prestigious Champions League competition (being knocked out in the semi-finals by the eventual runners-up, AS Monaco). The second place finish in the Premiership automatically qualified them for the group phase of the 2004-05 Champions League. Only a week after Porto won the 2004 Champions League final, Abramovich replaced Claudio Ranieri as manager with Josť Mourinho, who had led Porto to the crown. The 2004-05 season proved equally successful; Chelsea won their first English title since 1955 and only the second in their history. They also won the 2005 Carling Cup. Chelsea also reached the semi-finals of the Champions League for the second successive season, knocking out Barcelona and Bayern Munich, before they lost to eventual winners Liverpool. Still, it represents a major success for Josť Mourinho and Roman Abramovich's dream of domestic, European and worldwide dominance of football.

The proposed merger of Sibneft with Yukos was seen by most as a distancing of himself from Russia, at a time when the Kremlin appears to have decided to bring at least some of the oligarchs to account for their colourful past business practices. Abramovich is a close associate of controversial Boris Berezovsky who sold him his stake in Sibneft.

In July 2004 it was reported that Abramovich had agreed a three-year sponsorship deal worth GBP 30 million (USD 55 million, EUR 44.5 million, RUR 1.6 billion) between the Russian team CSKA Moscow and Sibneft, in an apparent attempt to build a second "super team". UEFA rules prevent one person owning more than one team participating in UEFA competitions, so Abramovich will not be the formal owner of CSKA, though he was named most influential person in Russian football in the Russian magazine Pro Sport at the end of June 2004. The sponsorship deal gave Abramovich another triumph in May 2005 when CSKA won the UEFA Cup, becoming the first Russian club ever to win a major European football competition. The involvement with CSKA is viewed as an attempt to counter accusations of being unpatriotic which were made at the time of the Chelsea purchase.

However, due to his Jewish ancestry, he maintains several business interests in Israel with his close Israeli business associate, Pini Zahavi. In July 2004, they reportedly were considering a bid for Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC. He also returned back to Israel in March 2005 with Chelsea manager Josť Mourinho as part of an event to push for peace between Israelis and Arabs, by holding a pre-teen football tournament.

Abramovich is known as a fan of Formula One and is often seen in the paddock at races; in 2004, after the sport's owner Bernie Ecclestone was seen giving Abramovich a tour of the pitlane at the Monaco Grand Prix, rumours circulated that he was considering investing in or purchasing an F1 team.

In 2005, he moved down to second place in the Sunday Times Rich List as the newspapers estimate of Lakshmi Mittal's wealth had more than quadrupled since the previous year.

He owns his own private Boeing 767-300 known as "The Bandit" due to its paint scheme.

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