Amidst the intricate tapestry of Russia’s economic landscape, the stories of these influential individuals unfold, revealing the profound impact they have etched on both the nation and the global economic stage. Against the backdrop of Russia’s complex economic dynamics, the lives of Alexy Alexandrovich Mordashov, Vladimir Potanin, Vladimir Seregeyevich Lisin, Vagit Yusufovich Alekperov, and Leonid Mikhelson come to light, offering insights into the challenges overcome and the lasting legacies they’ve woven into the fabric of the nation’s prosperity.
The Wealthiest People in Russia
Alexey Alexandrovich Mordashov, a Russian billionaire entrepreneur, holds the position of main shareholder and chairman at Severstal, the largest steel and mining company in Russia. Born to Soviet steel mill workers, Mordashov served as Severstal’s CEO for 19 years until his resignation in 2015. As the majority stakeholder, he has seen substantial success, with a 72% increase in the company’s stock since the previous year, elevating him from the fourth wealthiest Russian to the country’s top-ranking individual in terms of wealth. Mordashov’s journey reflects his transformative impact on Russia’s steel industry and economic landscape.
Vladimir Potanin acquired a share in Norilsk Nickel during Russia’s privatization in 1995, and presently, he holds slightly over one-third of the company. Having served as deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, Potanin maintains connections with President Vladimir Putin. He invested $2.5 billion in developing Rosa Khutor, a ski resort for the 2014 Olympics, and retains ownership. In 2022, he acquired Rosbank from Societe Generale and 35% of Tinkoff Bank. Facing U.S. sanctions in December 2022, Potanin is embroiled in a significant divorce settlement in the UK with his ex-wife. His primary wealth now lies in a 35% stake in Nornickel.
Vladimir Sergeyevich Lisin is a prominent Russian billionaire businessman, serving as the chairman and majority shareholder of Novolipetsk, one of Russia’s major steel companies. Additionally, he holds the position of chairman at NLMK Group, a leading steel products manufacturer. Lisin’s journey began as an electrical fitter in a Siberian coal mine, followed by work as a steelworker in Central Russia. He subsequently managed factories for Trans-World Group, a commodities trading entity linked to aluminum smelters, which faced scrutiny for bank fraud. Lisin, also involved in the transportation sector, owns First Cargo, a railway operator, along with several ports and shipping companies.
Vagit Yusufovich Alekperov, a Russian-Azerbaijani businessman, served as the President of Lukoil, a major oil company, from 1993 until 2022. As of April 16, 2021, his estimated net worth stood at $19.6 billion, ranking him as the ninety-fourth wealthiest globally and the fifth in Russia. Alekperov formerly held a 36.8% stake in Spartak Moscow football club and is associated with Leonid Fedun, a former Spartak owner. Additionally, he owns Heesen Yachts, a superyacht builder. Alekperov, a former Caspian Sea oil rig worker, rose to prominence as a deputy minister overseeing the oil industry in the Soviet Union, eventually establishing Lukoil in the 1990s. He maintains approximately 30% ownership of the publicly traded oil giant.
Leonid Mikhelson, the founder and chairman of natural gas producer Novatek, acquired a 17% stake in petrochemical company Sibur from Kirill Shamalov in 2017, subsequently increasing his ownership to 48%. In 2021, Sibur merged with TAIF Group, possessing significant assets in the Republic of Tatarstan. Mikhelson, partnering with Gennady Timchenko, played a pivotal role in Novatek and Sibur. He invested over $470 million in transforming a power plant near the Kremlin into the remarkable art space GES-2, which opened in 2021. Facing sanctions from the UK and the US in April 2022, Mikhelson transferred GES-2 and a 2.3% stake in Novatek to his daughter Victoria. Starting as a foreman in the Tyumen region, he has since become a key figure in Russia’s energy sector.