Vladimir Putin's Boyhood Friend Gets $7B Worth Of Deals For 2014 Sochi Olympics
Russian businessman Arkady Rotenberg, the boyhood friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, "already is collecting his winnings from what promises to be the most expensive Winter Olympics ever next year," according to Arkhipov & Meyer of BLOOMBERG. Rotenberg’s companies "have been awarded at least" 227B rubles ($7.4B) of contracts for the 2014 Sochi Games. That’s more than the entire budget for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, "though it represents just 15 percent of Russia's latest estimate for the Sochi event." Those contracts, which number at least 21, include a share of an $8.3B "transport link between Sochi and ski resorts in the neighboring Caucasus Mountains," a $2.1B highway along Sochi’s Black Sea coast, a $387M media center, and a $133M "stretch of venue-linking tarmac that will double as Russia’s first Formula One track." University of Michigan Sports Economist Stefan Szymanski said, "This is a monumental waste of public money. A small number of people at the top have control of resources and there is no accountability." While Rotenberg and long-time Putin associates stand to gain from Russia’s Olympian largesse, tycoons Vladimir Potanin and Oleg Deripaska say that "they’re getting squeezed." Potanin and Deripaska, the CEOs and largest owners of OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel (GMKN) and United Co. Rusal (RUALR), "respectively the world’s largest producers of nickel and aluminum, have been handed projects that may not turn a profit for years, if ever." Rotenberg’s aide said that "he was unable to comment on his work on the Olympics" (BLOOMBERG, 3/19).