By Yuriy Humber, Greg Walters and Maria Kolesnikova
Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Russian billionaires from aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska to soccer-club owner Roman Abramovich
lost more than $230 billion in five months during the nation's worst financial crisis since the 1998 default on its debt.
The combined wealth of Forbes magazine's 25 richest Russians tumbled 62 percent between May 19 and Oct. 6, based on the equity value of traded companies and analysts' estimates of closely held assets they own. The loss is four times larger than the fortune of the world's wealthiest man, Warren Buffett.
Moscow's benchmark Micex stock index declined 61 percent since its peak in May. The global credit seizure, war with Georgia and falling commodity prices led foreign investors to pull $74 billion out of Russia since the early August, according to BNP Paribas SA. While Russia's 1998 default and devaluation of the ruble eradicated savings for most of the population, this year's losses are wiping out its richest citizens' fortunes.
``There was a massive transfer of wealth into the hands of the oligarchs in 1998,'' said Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Asset Management Ltd., which has about $30 billion in emerging market stocks. ``Now it's going the other way.''