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United Press International (UPI), Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, May 1, 2009 

KIEV, Ukraine - A multinational steel corporation owned by Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov acquired West Virginia-based United Coal Co. amid the economic crisis.

Though details were not available directly from Metinvest, the Dragon Capital investment bank in Ukraine put the value of the deal at somewhere between $800 million and $1 billion, the Financial Times reports.

Metinvest is ranked among the Top 10 steel exporters in Ukraine, and the deal with United Coal would expand its portfolio in ore pits and coal mines.

Akhmetov is considered the richest man in Ukraine. Several oligarchs have borrowed substantially in the past, putting additional strain on the foreign debt obligations for Ukraine.  The deal shows a growing division in the Ukrainian economy as the wealthy few are able to thrive amid a looming economic crisis.

Despite a bitter relationship over energy deals with Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin agreed to waive fines on Ukraine for violating terms of a gas contract because of the deep recession. "Ukraine's economic conditions have seen better times," said Putin