Russian tycoons are regularly featured in the financial news and international tabloids. Their net worth is discussed along with their habits, hobbies, families and future plans. The rise of the Russian oligarch is a fascinating and astounding story. These men and women not only amassed great wealth but also came into economic and political power – and they did it fast. On this site we explore the lives of Russia’s richest moguls and their ascent to great wealth and stature.
The end of the Soviet Union hailed the start of something else
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 many previously state-owned companies were privatized. The aim was to move towards capitalism and to bring order to the economy which was in a state of complete disarray. President Boris Yeltsin was in power and his administration needed a way to raise capital while redistributing the poorly managed state-owned companies to private concerns.
The right place at the right time
In 1994, Oneksim Bank devised a plan that involved banks lending the government money, using shares in the companies as collateral. The plan was called ‘loans for shares’. When the government defaulted on payments, the shares used as security became the property of the banks and the balance was auctioned. Foreign bidders were excluded in the sales and the shares were often sold at a fraction of the price to the very banks that were in charge of the auctions, and already held shares. The proprietors’ net worth increased overnight, making them extremely wealthy and powerful very quickly.
The Who’s Who of Russian billionaires
According to the Forbes ‘The World’s Billionaires’ list, eight out of the 100 wealthiest tycoons in the world are Russian. Alisher Usmanov is at # 41 with a net worth of $19.4 billion and Mikhail Fridman is at his heels at #45 with a net worth of $18.5 billion. Of the 1640 billionaires listed, 111 are Russian. Although a lot of the information about these oligarchs consists of numbers, we take a closer look at their stories and how they got to be where they are.