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Private-equity big guns turn to Russia

The Russian private-equity market has had a great few months and many of the big houses are establishing funds. But are they prepared for russian condition, and are there enough deals out there to be done?

Big private equity firms such as the Carlyle Group, advised by George Bush senior, are turning to Russia

GEORGE BUSH SENIOR'S tenure as US president certainly divided opinion, but one thing is beyond doubt - he knows how to do business. Whenever he flies into a country, even for a few days, it usually means a billion-dollar, government-approved deal is on the cards for one of the companies he advises. So when Bush flew into Moscow last month, most market observers interpreted it as a sign that Russian foreign direct investment was about to receive a boost.

The main item on Bush's agenda was Chevron-Texaco's interest in a 25% stake in Yukos-Sibneft. If it goes through, it will be the biggest single FDI deal in Russia yet. But in between that and meeting his old sparring partner Mikhail Gorbachev, Bush also had time to speak at a conference organized by the Carlyle Group, the US-based private-equity firm that he advises. Carlyle is in talks with Alfa Capital, the private-equity arm of Alfa Group, to establish a $500 million Russian fund.

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