Russia’s Richest – the Newcomers |
Although the Russian economy has not been particularly dynamic in recent years, the Forbes list of Russia’s 200 richest businessmen is updated every year with more successful businessmen joining the list and less fortunate leaving. This year, there are 96 billionaires on the list, compared to just 77 in 2016. The Forbes 200 also includes 104 businessmen who are still ‘mere’ millionaires. This year’s list includes 13 new additions to the category. This is a record since pre-crisis year of 2013 when there were 16 new names on the list. Obviously, the luckiest of the newcomers will become richer ultimately joining the billionaires’ club. Out of the 13 new names, there are five businessmen whose worth is very close to the $1bn mark. It is interesting to look at their background and understand the source of their wealth.
Looking at their biographies, you can see that the potential billionaires are relatively young; 40-50 years old, compared to the average age of 50-60 years. Potential billionaires work in a variety of sectors – investment, IT, pharmaceuticals, heavy industry and airlines.
Most of them are top managers who received shares in their business either as part of their compensation package or else were given the opportunity to acquire shares at a discount. Among the newcomers are several entrepreneurs in the field of agriculture and fish production who benefited from domestic substitution following the 2014 import ban.
Most of the newcomers laid the foundations of their future success in high school or immediately after graduation. This has provided them with the time to grow their fortunes. They have managed to succeed in a flourishing economy and also to adapt and grow their businesses in the more challenging economic environment of today.
42-year-old president of the investment company United Capital Partners, Ilya Sherbovich took the 111th place in the Forbes list. His wealth is estimated at $950m.
Sherbovich was an ‘early starter’. In 1991, he came to Moscow from Vladimir and entered the prestigious Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics. In his second year at university, he started working in the investment division of the World Bank. Then, while still a student, he joined the stock market monitoring group under the Federal Commission for the Securities Market. Sherbovich received his diploma while working for United Financial Group (UFG), founded by former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Fedorov and his American partner Charles Ryan.
Sherbovich worked in UFG for 12 years, eventually becoming the company's president and, together with Fedorov and Ryan, became one of the three largest owners of UFG. Under their leadership, UFG made sizable profits in the fast growing Russian investment market and became the top domestic investment bank. In 2003, it was acquired by Deutsche Bank. The integration of UFG into Deutsche Bank was led by Sherbovich.
In 2006, when UFG was finally consolidated into Deutsche Bank, Sherbovich resigned and established his own investment company United Capital Partners (UCP). By August 2013, his firm’s assets under management totalled $3.5bn. UCP has completed a number of successful investments in major Russian companies - including Transneft and VKontakte.
51-year-old founder of Veeam Software, Andrey Baronov, was ranked 113th by Forbes with an estimated wealth of $900m.
Baronov has a joint business together with Ratmir Timashev, his former classmate at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. In 1997, the classmates founded Aelita Software, which developed software for the Windows Server. In 2004, they sold Aelita Software to the Quest Software Corporation for $117m. In 2006, the partners founded a new software development company Veeam Software, headquartered in Switzerland. The company develops various corporate tools for datacentres (cloud systems, virtual data storage, etc.) Now, 70% of Veeam’s customers are Fortune 500 companies. Veeam Software’s revenue exceeded $607m last year.
In 20011 Baronov and Timashev were included into the Forbes list of 10 Russian businessmen who managed to build businesses outside of Russia from scratch.
The 37-year-old founder of the pharmaceutical group R-Pharm, Alexey Repik took 116th position in the Forbes list with an estimated wealth of $900m.
Repik has worked in pharma since 1995 and founded R-Pharm in 2001, two years before he graduated from the Higher School of Economics.
The businessman is passionate about forging better relations between business and government. Since 2012, he has served as co-chairman of Business Russia. Repik is also a member of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and he is a representative of the Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of Entrepreneurs under the President of the Russian Federation.
In 2016, the total value of R-Pharm was estimated at $ 1.7 billion. In December 2016, a 10% stake in the company was sold to the Japanese Mitsui & Co. with an option to purchase another 10% stake.
The second founder of Veeam Software, 51-year-old Ratmir Timashev, took the 118th position in the Forbes rating with a net worth of $900 million, the same as Andrey Baronov.
After graduating from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Timashev moved to the USA where, in 1995, he was awarded a master's degree in chemical physics at Ohio State University. Now the businessman has dual citizenship of Russia and the United States.
Timashev and Baronov continue to be engaged in software development and investing in Russian IT start-ups. In 2005, they established ABRT, a venture capital fund. Since 2007, ABRT together with the European venture capital fund Mangrove Capital Partners, have invested in IT start-ups in Russia and other Eastern and Central European countries.
The 50-year-old owner of the Chelyabinsk Tube Rolling Plant (ChTPZ Group) returned to the Forbes list after a four-year gap. His assets of $ 800 million put him in 128th place.
In 1989-1992, Komarov, a graduate of the Moscow Institute of Chemical Engineering worked in administrative positions at the Moscow Satirikon Theatre. Then he dramatically changed his career and started selling metal products.
In 1996, he became deputy general director of ChTPZ and began to accumulate shares in the business. Now he owns 72.9% of the ChTPZ group, which includes the Chelyabinsk Tube Rolling Plant and the Pervouralsky Novotrubny Plant.
In 2005, Komarov was elected to represent Chelyabinsk in the Federation Council. His mandate expired in 2010. As a senator, he was a member of the Committee on Natural Resources and Environment Protection.
From 2006 to 2010 (except 2009), Komarov was part of the Forbes list of 100 richest businessmen in Russia. In 2007, he was in fourth place, at which point his fortune was estimated at $5bn. In 2011-2013 Komarov no longer was a billionaire but remained in the Forbes 200 list of richest businessmen. In 2014 Komarov was questioned on suspicion of commercial bribery and dropped out of the list. In 2016 the criminal investigation against him was closed.
There is no doubt that Komarov was once a billionaire, but whether he can achieve that status once again is more questionable. Reaching the top again might be much harder than it was the first time.
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