Central regions | Finance, business

Forbes ranking: Hi-tech has made just two billionaires in Russia

30 Apr '13
Commenting on Forbes’ latest ranking of Russia’s billionaires released earlier this month, East-West Digital News, the international resource on Russian digital industries, emphasized that among Russia’s billionaires, only two have made their wealth exclusively or mostly from high technology industries.

The Russian edition of the US magazine has estimated the wealth of Arkady Volozh, the co-founder, main shareholder and CEO of NASDAQ-listed search company Yandex, at $1.15 billion.

Slightly richer than Volozh, with $1.3 billion in wealth according to Forbes, is 74-year-old Valentin Gapontsev. A former Soviet researcher in laser physics – now a Russian-American citizen – Gapontsev founded IPG Photonics, a leading global provider of high-power fiber lasers and fiber amplifiers, which was introduced on the NASDAQ in 2006.

In a country whose core wealth still relates to natural resources, only one dozen billionaires are connected to hi-tech sectors to various extents – with the bulk of their wealth coming, however, from other industries.

Leading the ranking is 60-year-old Alisher Usmanov, with his wealth estimated at $17.6 billion by Forbes and up to $20 billion by other rankings. Although he made his first billions through mining and lumber operations, telecommunications, Internet and media assets now account for more than half of Usmanov’s fortune, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.

Usmanov controls, in particular, DST Global, an international fund with shares in Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Alibaba, and several other leading Internet companies, as well as in the Mail.ru Group, which stands with Yandex as one of the two leading Internet groups in Russia.

Among the other Russian top businessmen having interests in hi-tech industries –along with assets in other industries – are:

Mikhail Fridman ($16.5 billion in wealth, has a stake in mobile operator Vimpelcom);

Viktor Vekselberg ($15.1 billion, controls ISP Akado and heads the state-owned hi-tech hub Skolkovo);

Vladimir Potanin ($14.3 billion, owns media group Profmedia);

Alexey Mordashov ($12.8 billion, controls online retailer Utkonos.ru);

Alexey Kuzmichev ($8.2 billion, has a stake in Vimpelcom);

Vladimir Evtushenkov ($6.7 billion, controls AFK Sistema, a diversified holding with diversified assets including mobile operator MTS, Sitronics and Sarov Technopark);

Gleb Fetisov ($1.9 billion, has a stake in Vimpelcom through Altimo);

Alexey and Dmitry Ananiev ($1.7 billion each, co-own system integrator Technoserv as well as online and print media group Media 3);

Andrey Kosogov ($1.5 billion, has a stake in Vimpelcom);

Maxim Nogotkov ($1.3 billion, has invested in online/offline retailer Enter.ru);

Mikhail Abyzov ($1.25 billion, has links with the venture fund Bright Capital and with tech event platform Digital October).

In another ranking released in late February, Forbes attempted to shed some light on Russia’s “Top 30 Internet companies” based on their annual revenue – but with a dubious methodology.
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