Despite the controversy surrounding Russian billionaires in terms of law and corruption, the country is home to one of highest number of wealthiest people in the world. Russia is not only the third largest economy on the planet but also has a formidable presence among the world’s billionaires with a total of 95 billionaires in 20121.
- Alisher Usmanov
The Russian presence on the Forbes 2012 World Billionaire List is led by Alisher Usmanov ranking at 28 and who with a net worth of $18.1 billion is also the richest man in the country. Usmanov owes his position as the richest Russian to interests extending from steel and telecom to other investments. However the vast bulk of his fortune owes to the iron ore and steel giant MetalloInvest, which got a boost in 2011 when it refinanced its debt. Usmanov also owns the biggest Russian business daily, Kommersant and has a stake in the second largest cell operator Megafon. According to Forbes2, Usmanov’s fortunes may rise even higher with Facebook going public since the oligarch has a stake in the social network, as well as in Zynga and Groupon, through DST Global, the investment firm he bankrolled.
The 59 year old billionaire is married and though his primary residence is in Moscow. Usmanov is believe to own the sprawling Tudor-era estate Sutton Place, about 50 miles southwest of London, which was once owned by US industrialist J. Paul Getty.
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- Vladimir Lisin
With a net worth of $15.9 billion, Vladimir Lisin is the second richest person in Russia and also ranks 41st on Forbes 2012 list of World Billionaires. Lisin's main source of wealth comes from his ownership of the Novolipetsk steel mill, one of the largest in the world. However according to Forbes3, Lisin suffered heavy losses in 2011 as lower steel prices and reduced demand cut the share price of his Novolipetsk Steel by 45%, thus wiping away around $8.1 billion from his fortunes. He also closed money-losing newspaper Gazeta. As part of his diversification ventures, Lisin has been shifting his money and attention into transportation. Since 2007, he's bought shares in several ports and shipping groups. In October, he paid $4.2 billion for control of First Cargo, Russia's biggest railway operator.
56 year old Lisin used to be a steelworker at one time. Eventually he went on to obtain a degree from Siberian Metallurgical Institute as well as a Doctorate from the Russian Academy of Economics. The self-made billionaire is married and has three children. Apart from his commercial ventures, Lisin is also responsible for the construction of one of Europe's largest shooting-range complexes in Lisya Nora, which is close to Moscow.
- Alexei Mordashov
Yet another of Russia’s richest owes his wealth to steel industry – Alexei Mordashov owner of steel giant Severstal, enjoys a net worth of $15.3 billion as of March 2012 making him the third wealthiest man in the country. This despite Mordashov having sold three of his loss-making U.S. steel plants to fellow billionaire Ira Rennert's Renco Group for $1.2 billion in May 2011, half of what he paid for them in 2008. He however has held on to two plants, one in Columbus, Missouri and the other in Dearborn, Michigan. On the plus side Mordashov increased his stake in equipment maker Power Machines in 2011, buying a 25% stake from Siemens. He now plans to spin off Severstal's gold-mining assets, combining them into his Nord Gold, which is set to go public on the London Stock Exchange.
The 47 year old divorce and father of five is a self-made billionaire; from being the son of mill worker parents, he became finance director of a steel mill. When the plant's elderly general director instructed him to buy up company shares so it would not fall into the hands of an outsider, Mordashov bought most of them himself.
- Vladimir Potanin
With a net worth of $14.5 billion, Vladimir Potanin is the next to feature on the list of the wealthiest Russian men. Potanin is best known as the co-owner of Norilsk Nickel, the metals giant he ran together with Mikhail Prokhorov for 16 years. When the partnership fell apart in 2008, Prokhorov's stake was bought by another Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. However Potanin continues to control Russia's largest media group, ProfMedia, owner of magazines, radio stations, movie theaters; it also broadcasts Russian versions of MTV and VH1. Potanin has variously served as a deputy prime minister of the economy and several years ago, partnered with George Soros in telecom monopoly Svyazinvest.
The 51 year old self-made billionaire lives in Moscow; he is married and father of three children. Fluent in both French and English besides his native Russian, Potanin was In January 2007 named an Officer of the prestigious Order of Arts and Literature in Paris for his cultural contributions. In 2010 Potanin became the first Russian billionaire to announce he will transfer his fortune to charity, and not his children.
- Vagit Alekperov
Energy tycoon Vagit Alekperov is one of the richest men in Russia thanks to a net worth of $13.5 billion which also ranks him 56th in Forbes List of 2012 World Billionaires. The source of his fortunes is Lukoil, Russia's largest independent energy company. Future prospects of Lukoil appear to be assured since it is developing the giant West Qurna-2 oilfield in Iraq, one of the largest deposits in the world. Even though Alekperov started out as a Caspian Sea oil rig worker, he became a deputy minister in the Soviet oil industry. In 1991 took three large ministry controlled oil fields and set up Lukoil. Alekperov remains its largest shareholder with more than 20% stake; ExxonMobil was the second largest investor until it sold out in 2010. During ExxonMobil's sale Alekperov bought another its shares using borrowed money. In 2011 when the price went up he sold about 3% and earned $350 million.
Born in Baku, capital city of Azerbaijan, the 62 year old oil tycoon now lives in Moscow; he is married and has a son, Yusuf. Alekperov has penned a book called Oil of Russia: Past, Present and Future.