9 September 1953 |
Chust, Namangan Province, Uzbek SSR, Soviet Union
|Alma mater||Moscow Institute of International Relations|
|Net worth||US$ 17.6 billion (March 2013)|
Alisher Burkhanovich Usmanov (Uzbek: Alisher Usmonov, Алишер Бурханович Усмонов) (born 9 September 1953) is an Uzbek-born Russian business magnate. According to the 2011 edition of Forbes magazine, the oligarch Usmanov is Russia's richest man, with a fortune estimated at $18.1 billion, and the world's 28th richest person. According to the December 2012 Bloomberg Billionaires Index, he has an estimated net worth of $17.3 billion, making him the 39th richest person in the world. In April 2013, the Sunday Times listed him as the richest person in the UK, ousting Lakshmi Mittal for the number one spot.
He built his wealth through mining and lumber operations, and investments, and is the majority shareholder of Metalloinvest, a Russian industrial conglomerate, which he founded to manage Gazprom's metals interests.[dead link] Usmanov is also a co‑owner of the media holding company which comprises 7TV and Muz‑TV federal television channels and 33 regional TV broadcasting stations.
He owns the Kommersant and Sekret Firmy Publishing Houses, shares in the company SUP, which controls Internet website Livejournal.com and internet newspaper Gazeta.ru. He is a co‑owner of Russia's second-largest mobile telephone operator, MegaFon, and co-owner of Mail.ru, the largest Internet company in the Russian-speaking world, which owns stakes in popular web portals like Odnoklassniki, Vkontakte, Facebook and others.
Usmanov is the president of the FIE, the international governing body of fencing, and he has invested in fencing programs and fencing development around the globe. He is also a major shareholder in London's Arsenal Football Club, following in the footsteps of fellow Russians Roman Abramovich, owner of rival Chelsea, and Alexandre Gaydamak, former owner of Portsmouth.
In February 2008, his Metalloinvest also became sponsor of Dinamo Moscow, the Russian capital's football team. His Metalloinvest group's name replaced the Xerox Corporation's on its players' shirts as part of the $7 million deal. By having his company purchase the interest in the team, he avoided a conflict of interest with Arsenal, according to London's The Sun, "as Usmanov does not have any shares in the Moscow club. But he is on the board". While he has repeatedly been accused of various crimes or using or giving political favors (including a 1980 fraud conviction which was subsequently vacated), he has vigorously denied all accusations.
Usmanov was born in a provincial town of Chust but spent his childhood in the capital Tashkent where his father was a state prosecutor. Planning to pursue a career of a diplomat, he later moved to Moscow and joined Moscow State Institute of International Relations from which he graduated in 1976 with a degree in international law.
He was arrested and convicted on fraud charges in Uzbek SSR in August 1980 and imprisoned for six years of an eight year sentence. This conviction was vacated in July 2000 by the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan, when it ruled that "the original conviction was unjust, no crime was ever committed, and that the evidence was fabricated." In a November 2007 email interview with The Guardian, the interviewer brought up multiple instances where Usmanov had been accused of various crimes or of using or giving political favors, including the subsequently-vacated 1980 conviction. Usmanov repeatedly denied all of the accusations mentioned in the interviewer's questions.
Usmanov owns diverse interests including stakes in precious metals, iron ore, steel, natural gas and media companies. He is the co-owner of Metalloinvest, which he founded along with business partner Vasiliy Anisimov in order to manage his acquisitions in the metal industry. Metalloinvest owns a wide range of Russian metal and mining businesses including Mikhalovsky GOK, Moldavia Metal, Ural Steel, Ormeto-YUMZ, Olenegorsk iron-ore company, pig-iron company Tulachermet, the Oskol electro-metallurgical plants and the Lebedinski mining-processing combines. His combined holdings make him one of the top 10 steelmakers in Russia.
He is chairman of Gazprominvest Holdings, the investment holding subsidiary of Russia's state-owned gas company Gazprom, where his role is to manage its "most difficult and sensitive financial transactions."
Usmanov is the sole owner of Cyprus-registered Gallagher Holdings, described as a global conglomerate with main investments in mining and steel industry, technology, oil and gas, media and pharmaceuticals. Since 2006, he has acquired stakes in Australia-based mining companies, Medusa, Mt Gibson and Aztec Resources through Gallagher Holdings. Usmanov is the largest shareholder in London-listed Nautilus Minerals, which is prospecting undersea gold and copper deposits off Papua New Guinea.
He has also recently purchased through Gallagher Holdings an interest in Australian mining company Strike Resources, which is currently working on an iron ore deposit in Peru.
Kommersant and media firms
In August 2006, Usmanov began to invest in media. He bought Kommersant, a newspaper formerly owned by Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky who had fallen into disfavour with the Kremlin and was living in exile. The deal was finalised at US$200 million. Usmanov also made a $25 million purchase of a 50-percent stake in Russian sports TV channel 7TV in November 2006 and bought 75 percent of Russian TV music channel MUZ-TV for $300 million in June 2007.
On 12 December 2011, following the 2011 Russian protests regarding vote-rigging in parliamentary elections, the weekly Kommersant Vlast magazine ran an unflattering issue on Vladimir Putin titled "Victory of United ballot-stuffers" – a pun on Putin's United Russia party. Usmanov sacked the editor, Maxim Kovalsky, and the head of the publisher's holding company, Andrei Galiyev, saying there had been an "ethical breach" and that the issue "bordered on petty hooliganism". Demyan Kudryavtsev, the head of the Kommersant publishing house, assumed responsibility by resigning, stating in a blog post that the magazine issue had been "in violation of internal procedures, professional journalistic standards and the Russian law".
Nadezhda Azhgihina, executive secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists, was shocked by the incident, calling it "a clear example of censorship from the owner". On 14 December, 60 journalists from the Kommersant newspaper signed an open letter to Usmanov, saying, "We are being compelled to be cowards, which is unworthy and unproductive...We regard [Kovalsky's] dismissal as an act of intimidation aimed at preventing any critical words about Vladimir Putin...We take particular offence at the attempt to present the dismissal of a man for his professional position as a fight for the purity of the Russian language. This is the same kind of fabrication that offended people at the election." Usmanov responded that emotionally, he could "understand the journalists speaking up for sacked top managers" but that "Kommersant Vlast is a respectable, independent, socio-political publication."Mikhail Prokhorov, who had announced his candidacy for the 2012 presidential election, offered to buy Kommersant on the same day, but Usmanov rejected the offer.
Usmanov moved into the football arena in August 2007 by acquiring a 14.58-percent stake in the English team Arsenal Football Club. He and his business partner Farhad Moshiri bought the stake in the club owned by former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein for £75 million. David Dein was appointed as head of their investment vehicle, Red and White Holdings, which became the largest shareholder in the club outside of members of the board of directors.
On 28 September 2007, it was announced that Red and White Holdings had increased its shareholding to 23 percent, making it the second largest shareholder in the club behind Danny Fiszman on 24 percent. On 15 February 2008, he increased it further to over 24 percent, giving him a stake just short of Arsenal non-executive director and major shareholder Danny Fiszman's 24.11 percent. However there was speculation that Usmanov might already be the club's largest shareholder at 24.2 percent, which he later increased to 25 percent on 16 February 2009.
Red and White Holdings confirmed on 28 February 2008 that it was the club's largest shareholder and the company said it "has the necessary funding to increase its stake further [but] it has no current intention to make a full takeover bid for Arsenal for six months." If the stake were to reach 30 percent, Red and White Holdings would have to launch a formal takeover. Usmanov said he had been an Arsenal fan for seven years and he had a great love for Arsenal.
Usmanov's interest precipitated a "lock-down" agreement by the Gunners' board, whereby Chairman Peter Hill-Wood announced that club directors could sell their stakes only to "permitted persons" before April 2009, and had to give fellow board members "first option" on shares until October 2012. However, there was a termination clause in the agreement in October 2010.[clarification needed] "The lockdown...makes us bullet-proof," said the then Arsenal managing director Keith Edelman.
American businessman Stan Kroenke, already a major Arsenal shareholder, increased his stake in the club to just over 62 percent in April 2011 after buying out Fiszman and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, making him the majority shareholder. As Kroenke's stake had risen above 30 percent, he was obliged to make an offer to buy out the remainder of Arsenal shares. Usmanov refused to sell, however, and maintained his stake.
Usmanov increased his Arsenal FC share beyond 29 percent in June 2011. Red and White Holdings announced on 20 June 2011 that it had more than 29-percent stake in Arsenal Holdings Plc. This was further increased after Usmanov purchased shares held by Scottish football club Rangers in February 2012.
Usmanov criticized Arsenal's lack of ambition and financial model in an open letter sent to the board on 5 July 2012. This criticism came as consequence of the Dutch football player Robin van Persie decision not to extend his contract. Usmanov, who remains a majority shareholder, states that he has no intention of selling his shares. A month later, he reiterated his view that "the current politics of the club's management" were in part responsible for Arsenal's failure to win trophies.
International Fencing Federation
|This section requires expansion. (February 2013)|
On 17 September 2007, Usmanov paid more than £20 million for an art collection owned by the late Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, days before it was to be auctioned by Sotheby's in London. He gave all the artwork to the Russian state, where it is housed in the Konstantinovsky Palace near St. Petersburg. Later that same month he purchased the rights to a large collection of Soviet cartoons, which for fifteen years had been owned by Russian-born actor Oleg Vidov, who emigrated to the United States in 1985. After the deal, valued at $5–10 million, Usmanov donated the cartoon collection to a newly formed Russian children's television channel.
In May 2009, Digital Sky Technologies (which later changed its name to "Mail.ru Group"), a company in which he owns a 32-percent stake, paid $200 million for a 1.96-percent stake in social networking website Facebook.
Usmanov is a member of the Board of Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and the chairman of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs committee on regulatory activity improvement and removal of administrative barriers. He is also one of the founders of the Arts and Sports Charity Foundation and a guarantor of the Charity project “One Thousand Russian cities”.
According to presidential decree #365 of 17 March 2004, Usmanov was awarded with a Medal of Honor of Russia.
On 12 November 2012, the British newspaper The Times claimed that London-based PR firm RLM Finsbury had edited Usmanov's article on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to remove negative information about their client. The PR firm admitted the actions and stated that they had acted on their own, without the authorization of their client.
The information was said to have been removed in expectation of the stock market listing of MegaFon, which is controlled by Usmanov. PR industry commentators blamed Wikipedia's internal policy and structure on amending inflammatory content, with PRCA director-general Francis Ingham suggesting that the process was "opaque, time-consuming and cumbersome."
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