Suleyman Kerimov (Сулейман Керимов) is among Russian’s wealthiest businessmen with a net worth estimated by Forbes Magazine at approximately $6.7B (as of mid-May). Kerimov has built a diverse portfolio of international holdings and investments that have brought him immense success as a businessman, investor and philanthropist. Kerimov lives in Moscow with his wife and three children.
Education and Early Career
Suleyman Kerimov’s beginnings were quite humble. He was born in Dagestan, North Caucasus in 1966. After graduation from high school in 1983, he went on to study civil engineering at Dagestan Polytechnic Institute. After one year, he was called to army duty, which he served from 1984-86. Upon discharge, he continued his studies, but this time pursuing a BA in Finance and Economics from Dagestan State University.
After graduating in 1989, Kerimov became employed at the Eltav electrical goods plant as Assistant Director General and economist. He lived modestly with his wife in a small apartment adjacent to the plant, utilizing his degree in economics as accountant for the company. During this time, he initiated several private investment projects, as well as investments on behalf of Eltav. He advanced in responsibility, becoming Deputy Director General. Eltav established a bank, called Fedprombank, whose purpose was to finance utility companies on the verge of failing, in order to keep the Russian economy strong during the political collapse of the USSR. In 1993, Kerimov became a liaison between Eltav and Fredprombank, leading its investment strategies.
In 1995, Kerimov was appointed by Soyuz Finz, a banking and trading company, to be CEO, where he diversified the company’s investment holdings and corporate buyouts. Kerimov was with Soyuz Finz for two years, after which he became research fellow and VP for the International Institute of Corporations.
Kerimov’s personal investment activities continued and by 1997, he was in a position to buy out the partners of Fedprombank and also to purchase 50% of the shares in Vnukovo Airlines. He held significant shares in a number of investment companies, such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Credit Suisse and managed to survive their crashes during the financial meltdown in America.
Ultimately, Kerimov shifted his focus to domestic projects designed to strengthen the Russian economy, working to attract capital investment from lenders and individuals. Kerimov also survived the late 90s Russian financial crash, and went on to make investments in oil and financial enterprises. Among these were Nafta Moskova, an oil company and Gazprom, an oil and gas company. In 2005 he bought JSC Polymetal, a gold and silver mining company, which in 2007, was offered publicly on the London Stock Exchange. Kerimov’s other holdings include European banks, among them: Fortis and the Royal Bank of Scotland, as well as Polyus Gold International, the largest gold mine in Russia.
Suleyman Kerimov served as Deputy of State of Duma in the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament from the late 90’s until 2007 and from 2011, as Member of the Federation Council of Russia for the Republic of Dagestan.
The Suleyman Kerimov Foundation was established in 2007 with a mission of strengthening communities and families in Russia and abroad through grants to assist with health care, and for construction of education and religious facilities. It has dispersed more than $60M since its founding.