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Oligarchs pile up away goals

Russia's richest businessmen have set themselves a new objective - the acquisition of foreign enterprises for pleasure, profit and expertise.

Roman Abramovich, Russian oligarch who bought Chelsea football club for an estimated $230 million, "just for fun."

IT WAS A shock deal for most Englishmen when Roman Abramovich bought Premiership football club Chelsea "just for fun" - in fact, for an estimated $230 million in July. But it was little more than small change for Russia's second-richest oil and metals magnate. Overnight, English tabloid newspaper readers were boning up on their Russian history and finding out just who these oligarchs are. It is a lesson foreign businessmen would be advised to attend to as Abramovich's peers are also eyeing other less frivolous acquisitions in the west.

Russian businessmen are turning to the west for two reasons. First, they have already bought most things worth buying at home and in the near abroad of the former Soviet states. Second, they understand that despite their wealth they still have a lot to learn about business and hope to learn from their acquisitions.

Abramovich has at least $5.7 billion in the bank and after selling this year his stakes in oil major Sibneft and Russian Aluminium, which produces a quarter of the world's aluminium, there is several billion more on its way.

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