Vladimir Potanin (Владимир Потанин) earned a vast fortune by creating Interros, a holding company that invested in an array of companies, including Unexim Bank, Norilsk Nickel, Poly Gold and Sidanco, a major oil company. As an influential Russian oligarch and personality, in 1996, Boris Yelstin appointed Vladimir Potanin to be his Deputy Prime Minister.
In July 2014, Forbes estimated Potanin’s net worth to be $15 billion making him the 76th richest billionaire in the world and the 7th in Russia. The peak of his fortune was in 2008 when he was estimated to be the 25th richest person in the world with a assets of $19.3 billion. Recently, Vladimir Potanin joined the Bill Gates and Warren Buffet Giving Pledge to give away half of his fortune to philanthropic causes.
Vladimir Potanin was born in 1961, in Moscow. His father worked in the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Foreign Trade as a senior official during communism. In 1983, Potanin earned a degree in International Relations from Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).
Vladimir Potanin also worked for the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Foreign Trade. In 1990, he worked for the International Bank for Economic Cooperation, preparing him to run Unexim Bank and MFK commercial banks after he formed Interros Holding Company.
With the beginnings of privatization after the fall of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Potanin and Mikhail Prokhorov secured the customers of two major Soviet commercial banks and formed Interros. By 1995, Potanin expanded his business interests by buying significant shares of Unexim Bank, MFK bank, Norilsk Nickel, Solglasie and Interoos Dostoinstvo, two financial services companies, IR Leasing, involved in industrial equipment, Sidanko, an oil company, and North Western Shipping Company. In 2007, Interros was valued at $30 billion, making it one of the largest holding companies in Russia. Now its assets are $15 billion.
In 1993, after significant investments, Vladimir Potanin became President of UNEXIM Bank and Chairman of the Board at MFK bank. By 1998, Unexim Bank was the fifth largest bank in Eastern Europe. After the financial crisis of 1998 it restructured to form Rosbank.
Interros bought a major stake in Norilsk Nickel, the largest producer of palladium and nickel, the fourth largest producer of platinum and among the largest copper produces in the world. In 2013, it had revenues of $11.5 billion. In 2002, Potanin acquired 15% of Polyus Gold. In 2009, Potanin sold Polyus Gold to Suleyman Kerimov.
As Boris Yelstin’s Deputy Prime Minister, Vladimir Potanin was charged with economic development. He headed about twenty committees to guide the financial direction of Russia.
Vladimir Potanin committed himself to organized philanthropic causes from the beginning of his career. In 1999, he founded the Vladimir Potanin Foundation which gives grants to teachers, students and museums for academic accomplishments. He has also contributed millions to the Guggenheim Foundation, Moscow State Institute of International relations and the Russian Olympic Foundation. He built the Rosa Khutor skiing facility for the Olympics. Years after making a pledge to give the majority of his wealth away to philanthropic causes, Potanin signed the Giving Pledge.
The Eastern Orthodox Church has also honored him many times for his involvement with the church.
Vladimir Potanin’s home in Moscow is a complex that is complete with lavish luxury facilities that even has a private ski slope. He has a country home near Anatoly Chubais, an influential Russian. He also owns a luxury yacht. Potanin was recently divorced. He has three children.