Rich get richer thanks to global bourses rally

That was the week that was for the world's wealthiest, especially Russia's oligarchs, as share prices rose and incomes stayed stable.

The Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, left, speaks with the Novolipetsk Steel chairman Vladimir Lisin. AP Photo
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Gold may have lost some of its glister over the weekend but the 100 wealthiest people on the planet still added US$30.5 billion (Dh112.02bn) to their collective fortune last week as stocks and bonds rose.

And Russia's oligarchs were among the beneficiaries.

One of the week's biggest winners was Vladimir Lisin. The chairman of Novolipetsk Steel, Russia's most valuable steel maker, gained 8.9 per cent - $1.1bn - as the company's shares surged. He has a $13.4bn fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

"It's a double whammy, a double benefit this week, with very stable fixed income and higher equities," said Russ Certo, a managing director at Brean Capital in New York. "Those with wealth have a higher percentage of equity versus commodities and foreign exchange exposure. Commodities were significantly lower this week."

Global stock markets rallied with the Standard & Poor's 500 index finishing the week 2.3 per cent higher, while gold futures tumbled below $1,500 for the first time since 2011.

In the shark-eat-shark world of Russian big-business billionaires, the battle for dominance is fierce. Mikhail Fridman had his nose put out of joint last weekend by news that Magnit, a retailer owned by rival oligarch Sergey Galitsky, overtook sales at Mr Fridman's X5 Retail Group for the first time since the company opened 15 years ago.

X5, controlled by Mr Fridman's Alfa Group, posted an 8.1 per cent increase in first-quarter sales to 126bn rubles (Dh14.92bn), it said. But that failed to trump Magnit's quarterly sales rise of more than 30 per cent to 131bn rubles.

"I'm afraid to be found immodest, but for the first time over the last 15 years after opening of the first store we have become the leader in the food retail sector by sales," Mr Galitsky said.

Magnit has risen 72 per cent in the past 12 months, giving it a market value of $23.7bn. X5 is worth $4.8bn after falling 22 per cent over the same period.

The biggest big fish in the Russian billionaire tank is Alisher Usmanov - the country's richest man with a fortune of about $20bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

His company, Metalloinvest, Russia's largest iron ore producer, raised $1bn in a seven-year Eurobond issue, a banking source told Reuters on Thursday.

The order book totalled $3.8bn, another source with knowledge of the offering said.

Its chief executive said this year the company, which has major steel production assets in Russia, was worth about $18bn to $20bn. Metalloinvest declined to comment.

Metalloinvest, which last year was the fifth-largest commercial iron ore producer in the world, posted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation last year of $2.55bn, according to company data.

Meanwhile, fellow billionaire Vladimir Potanin this month insisted Krasnaya Polyana, a skiing area in southern Russia that will host the Sochi Winter Olympics next year, will be fit for purpose by the time the event comes around.

Mr Potanin, who is spending $2.2bn on the nearby Rosa Khutor resort, promises that what today looks like a building site would be a distant memory when Krasnaya Polyana offers as much as 200km of connected slopes by combining three separate ski zones.

"It will be complete happiness for tourists," said Sergei Bachin, Rosa Khutor's general director.

For the oligarchs of Russia, there is no such certainty. As recent history has shown, the ultra wealthy in the former Soviet Union walk a knife-edge.