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on 3 October 2016
Dull. I couldn't finish it. As Abramovich is so private, the book spends long periods talking about colleagues and historical events with little interesting detail on the man himself. A little disappointing I have to say.
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on 30 September 2007
I think it suffers from the fact that Abramovich is very secretive and also seems to ensure that none of his associates or employees will speak much about him. Yes Abramovich bought Sibneft but how did he find $50 million to fund his share? That was an incredible amount of money at the time when Russia was virtually bankrupt. More than 90% of Russians would have struggled to raise even $1000 in cash. And contrary to what the book suggests it wasn't easy to make money in a respectable way trading oil in Russia in the 90s, cargoes were stolen and trading companies placed into liquidation owing millions having been bled dry of funds beforehand. What did Abramovich do exactly? The book certainly doesn't tell us.
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on 17 February 2005
Although most of the bits about Abramovich I didn't know were interesting I was alarmed about the number of factual errors relating to Chelsea FC. Adrian Mutu has never played for Real Madrid (and is definately not 30) and Frank Lampard was not purchased during the Abramovich era (these errors stand out amongst others). I was left wondering that if the authors couldn't get these simple (and easily checked) facts right then how am I to trust everything else they've written. Maybe it's just a lack of attention to detail but it's still disappointing.
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on 14 December 2004
This is a useful account of the career of Roman Abramovich. In the 1990s, Russia's new capitalist class seized through privatisation the enormous wealth that the country's workers had produced during the Soviet generations.
Abramovich always attaches himself to powerful patrons. In the early 1990s, he befriended President Boris Yeltsin's crony Boris Berezovsky. In 1995, Berezovsky loaned the government $100 million for 51% of Sibneft ('Siberian Oil'), Russia's sixth biggest oil company worth $2.8 billion then (and $15 billion in 2003), and sold it to himself in another sham auction 18 months later for $110 million. Abramovich owned all the bidders in the auction. They robbed the government of $2.7 billion.
Russia's Audit Chamber reported that the sale was conducted with 'multiple legal violations' and 'should be considered invalid'. In 2003, Berezovsky had to flee Russia, and the Blair government gave him political asylum. Labour loves billionaires, however dodgy.
Abramovich broke company law by selling shares in Noyabrsk, Sibneft's extraction arm, to Sibneft at discount. The buyers transferred their shares to Sibneft two months later. He conned workers out of their share vouchers and slashed their wages.
Putin set up tax havens inside Russia, whereby regional governors could offer inward investors huge tax breaks. Abramovich took advantage of this by becoming governor of the province of Chukotka. He evaded regional taxes on Sibneft's profits by selling oil at discount to its subsidiary in Chukotka, which would then sell it to the end user at the higher market price. This gained Abramovich $500 million, far more than he spent on Chukotka, about $230 million. So the region lost $270 million net from his governorship. 'Profit not production' is Russia's mantra nowadays, and not just Russia's.
Abramovich is one of Britain's richest men, worth £7.5 billion at 38 years old. He famously bought Chelsea Football Club in July 2003, which a fellow-capitalist called 'the cheapest insurance policy in history'. The Financial Services Authority is still investigating the insider dealing on Chelsea shares, and seven dodgy offshore trusts' ownership of Chelsea shares. All great fortunes begin in crime.
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on 10 October 2014
It is mildly interesting if you are mildly interested in the subject but it is certainly no masterpiece. It is illuminating as to how you convert a nation into a gangster state and might be a warning as to what to avoid. A sharp turn into Laiser Faire Capitalism has to be avoided at all costs.Turning the clock back presents immense dangers. There is lot to be said in favour of the Fabians
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on 28 April 2005
This was bought for me as a present and I haven't put it down yet. I know nothing about the man, chelsea (or football in general really) nor Russian politics. If you'd like to know more about all these things then its a great read. It does tend to stay clear of Abramovich himself for a significant amount of the book by discussing the circumstances around him. However, still very interesting. Only half way through, but very good.
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on 7 February 2012
It's impossible to read this book without being appalled by the oligarchs' greed and disrespect for the people of Russia - so the authors must have been concerned for their welfare in view of what happened to some of those who travelled the same path. All the same, Abramovich must be afforded some admiration for having turned himself from a penniless orphan into one of the richest people on the planet. I love the detail of how he bought and took charge of Chelsea FC. How deep the authors must have dug for this. Just shows it's not all about oil and gas!
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on 30 April 2015
A rare insight into the isolating world of Abramovich, the wheeling and dealing of his business empire. A reclusive individual who makes rare appearances and that is just that. Chris Hutchins covers all business and personal issues, talks to friends and business associates past and now. Abramovich dealings with Putin and his brush with politics in Russia. Clearly the man is an enigma, and that is how he wishes to remain. Hutchins has got good contacts, researches well and writes an impressive yarn.
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on 26 August 2009
As a Chelsea FC fan I wanted this to be more of a kick in the teeth for Roman but it was nicer than that, if you like him you'll find interesting stories and anecdotes that are even endearing. I read it all in a day on holiday so that shows I liked it. I think it could have done with going to Chelsea for checking though as I'm sure some facts are wrong.
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on 7 January 2005
This is quite an interesting, well written book.How accurate it is remains something only Roman could answer. It seems to be universally accepted that Abramovich took the Russian state for a ride in his acquisition of Sibneft and there is no question that the guy is shady to say the least. However, on the football side there are factual inaccuracies and an overuse of quotes from Mark Lawrenson (who talks nothing but rubbish)so it leads me to question how precise the other facts are.
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