Friday, July 07, 2006

Money to burn

It's not clear which of the following recent or imminent purchases Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich values more --

(1) Irish Times (subs. req'd): For a mere £285,000 (€410,000), Mr Abramovich (39) has bought the "VIP 1" plate first owned by Kilkenny businessman Bill Finnegan in the 1970s and later - in replica, at least - by Pope John Paul II.

When it first became available in Kilkenny (which had the code IP under the old licensing system) in 1971, the much-sought-after plate was given to the founder of the Kilkenny Beer Festival, Bill Finnegan, in recognition of his work on behalf of the city.

[the attraction of the plate seems to be that it's a still valid, non-special issue registration]

(2) WSJ (subs. req'd) -- The efforts by Russian oil company OAO Rosneft to enlist strategic investors in its coming initial public offering could extend to Russian tycoons such as billionaire Roman Abramovich, who is considering an investment in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to two people familiar with the matter.

If Mr. Abramovich and other super-rich Russians decide to invest, their interest could find favor with the government of President Vladimir Putin. For Mr. Putin, the offering is a ratification of the Kremlin's retaking of large swaths of the energy sector in recent years and an important element of prestige ahead of the Group of Eight summit of world leaders next weekend.

The portion of Rosneft that is to be listed in Moscow could be valued at as much as $12 billion. The shares are expected to be priced July 13. A spokesman for Millhouse, Mr. Abramovich's investment vehicle, declined to comment.

UPDATE: Abramovich now denies that he purchased the Kilkenny plate.

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