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Russian intelligence

Russian shares, along with the rest of world markets, have fallen heavily despite the economy being in excellent shape and its stockmarket having considerably lower price/ earnings ratios than the UK, US and European markets.

The Neptune Russian and Greater Russia fund is to my mind an outstanding buy at the present time for a number of reasons.

The middle classes in Russia have increased sevenfold since 2000 and now account for 21 per cent of the population. Pay rises have been in excess of 20 per cent over the last three years and the super-rich have become even richer.

The middle classes are buying quality rather than seeking lower prices and this should sustain the consumer boom. For example, one of Russia’s leading food producers, Wimm Bill Dann, has just announced results for the first nine months of 2007 that show an increase in sales of over 43 per cent compared with the same period of 2006.

The forthcoming change in president is unlikely to affect the consumer boom. Yuri Medvedev, who is Vladimir Putin’s choice as future president, is almost certain to be elected with a big majority and, in turn, has endorsed Putin as his first choice for prime minister.

The natural resources in Russia are huge, with oil companies highly prosperous and paying big taxes. Furthermore, unlike the US and the UK, Russia is a debt-free country and has a balance of payments surplus.

Robin Geffen, who manages the Neptune fund, visits Russia about three times a year and has an outstanding record. His fund, which has been in existence for just over three years, has already risen by more than 200 per cent.

I believe that all realistic investors should have substantial holdings in this fund.

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