ANORAK: Russia's round numbers

By bne IntelliNews November 3, 2006

Ben Aris in Moscow -

Russia's progress recounted by conveniently round numbers.

The news on Wednesday that Russia's Stabilization Fund, which collects the country's gushing oil revenues, broke through the RUR2-trillion mark in October, had journalists scrambling to put pen to paper. In fact, there has been a raft of Russian round-number stories over the past few months that tell of a newly resurgent country with a rapidly growing economy, most of which have slipped under the radar. bne colours in the numbers.

$1 trillion: GDP growth was up 6.5% over the first half of this year, according to the Economic Development and Trade Ministry and is now worth about $780bn. However, if the value of Russian's grey economy is added in, then Russia’s GDP passed the $1 trillion mark this summer.

$1 trillion: Following the IPO of Rosneft in July, the value of Russian shares – traded on both domestic and international exchanges – topped $1 trillion. Not bad for a market that was only set up in 1995 and was worth as much as one mid-sized US company until recently.

$250bn: The amount that Russia holds in hard currency reserves. Russia's trade surplus has been expanding every quarter and reached $38.6bn in the second quarter of this year. Russia is now the third-richest country in the world in terms of money in the bank and now has enough to pay for over a year of imports, when three months is the norm. Russia's reserves fell to an all-time low of $9.1bn in 1998, but Deutsche Bank/UFG predicts that gross international reserves will top $300bn by the end of this year.

$250bn: The market cap of Gazprom if the share price stands at $10.99 – about where it is trading now. Gazprom shares reached a record high of $12.92 just before the May sell-off, after which it fell to around $9.00. The gas monopoly became Russia's most valuable company (for foreign investors) overnight following the removal the "ring fence" at the start of this year – an honour previously held by Yukos, which topped the $30bn mark shortly before it was crushed by the Kremlin two years ago. Gazprom is the clear leader of the $30bn-plus club, which now has just seven other members: Rosneft ($83.8bn), Lukoil ($65bn), Sberbank ($44.7bn), TNK-BP ($37.2bn), Surgutneftegaz ($30.9bn), and UES ($30.9bn).

$100bn: Russia's current account surplus reached just over $100bn between January and August from $76.2bn in the same period a year ago. Russian exports are up 29.5% to $198bn, while imports are growing less quickly, rising 27.6% to $97.8bn over the same period. Oil, gas and metals between them accounted for $125bn of these exports.

$50bn: M&A volumes have been more or less doubling every year since 2001 as Russia's economy goes through a massive consolidation, driven by increasing competition. This process topped $50bn last year when $58.9bn worth of deals was done – of which $13.1bn was Gazprom's takeover of Sibneft. Most deals still involve the fuel and energy sector, metallurgy, and services and trade. The volume of M&A is expected to top $50bn again this year, given the volume over the first half of this year was $24.5bn, according to

$10bn: The amount of money raise by Rosneft's IPO (actually, it was $10.4bn), the biggest IPO in Russian history. Sistema held the record for 18 months with a $1.5bn IPO in London at the start of 2005. This record will last a little longer, probably until RusAl attempts the next $10bn IPO in London in about three years' time.

$1bn: The value of Mars Bar sales in Russia this year. Russia is now one of only five markets in the world where Mars sells more than a $1bn worth of its popular chocolate bar ever year. $1bn is also the sales figure in Russia for the Swedish flat-pack furniture kings in fiscal 2005-2006. IKEA is spending $80m every month on its expansion in Russia and now has six IKEA stores and four Mega malls, with plans to open another five Mega malls later this year and at least six Mega malls next year.

$500m: The amount the Kremlin has earmarked for Russia’s venture capital funds, which go into operation in October.

1m: The millionth foreign-made car was sold in the first week of October, marking also the first time that foreign car sales have broken into six figures in a single year. A third of these cars were made in Russia, while imports were up by nearly a third over the first seven months of this year and worth $7.5bn.

100%: Mobile phone subscriptions reached 147m in September, taking the penetration of mobile phones to over 100%. When Dmitri Zimin set up VimpelCom in 1992 there were no mobile phones in Russia at all.

$4,000: The cost of a square meter of apartment in Moscow has doubled in the last year to reach $4,000. Developers are toasting the rise with champagne, but leaving the rest of us to deal with the bubble when it pops.

$400: The average income of Russians passed $400 a month this summer, a substantial rise from the average of $50 at the start of 2000 when Yeltsin stepped down. No wonder President Vladimir Putin is popular.

$0: The value of Russia’s debt to the Paris Club of sovereign debtors after the government transferred the last $23.7bn to pay off the last of Russia’s Soviet-era debts. Russia also owes $0 to the IMF, the World Bank, and the so-called London Club of commercial debtors.

Send comments to: Ben Aris

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