updated 12/10/2007 8:08:14 PM ET 2007-12-11T01:08:14

A decade and a half after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has become a powerhouse of overseas investment, according to a study released Tuesday.

The study, by the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management and New York’s Columbia University, found that the top 25 Russian companies in terms of foreign assets have a total of $59 billion in foreign assets.

That makes Russia the third-largest direct foreign investor among emerging markets, after Hong Kong and Brazil, and “reveals a dramatic transnationalization of Russian firms,” the study said.

Over the past two years, the top 25 Russian companies’ aggregate foreign assets more than doubled, growing at a faster rate than the world’s 25 leading multinational companies, according to the study. The Russian companies’ foreign assets are concentrated in Europe, but they are increasingly spreading to Asia, Africa and the Americas, it said.

More than half the foreign assets owned by the top Russian multinational companies are owned by natural resources industries such as oil, gas and metals, the study showed. Only 8 percent belonged to manufacturing companies, a reflection of how Russia’s natural resources industries have soared while the manufacturing sector remains underdeveloped.

“Russian companies started to establish foreign affiliates much later than their competitors. However, the top multinationals are quickly expanding their role — with all the accompanying risks, opportunities and new requirements both for their business and economic policy,” Skolkovo research director Valery Sorkin said in a statement.

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