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World BillionairesThe Making of a Billionaire: Alisher Usmanov's Biography

The Making of a Billionaire: Alisher Usmanov’s Biography

Alisher Usmanov is a Russian businessman and philanthropist. He was born on September 9, 1953, in Uzbekistan, then part of the Soviet Union. Usmanov is best known for investing in metals, mining, telecommunications, and technology companies.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Usmanov accumulated his wealth through his involvement in metal and mining operations and investments. Currently, he holds a majority stake in Metalloinvest, which is a Russian conglomerate in the industrial sector.

Usmanov’s varied portfolio includes ownership of the Kommersant publishing house, co-ownership of MegaFon, Russia’s second-largest mobile phone operator, and ownership of Udokan copper.

Udokan copper is involved in developing one of the world’s largest copper deposits. Additionally, Usmanov is a significant investor in Group, previously known as Digital Sky Technologies (DST), and holds shares in several technology companies worldwide.

Apart from his business pursuits, Usmanov has contributed to sports administration, having held the position of president for the international fencing governing body, the Fédération Internationale d’Escrime, from 2008 until 2022.

Early Life

Alisher Usmanov was born in Chust, Uzbekistan, and spent his childhood in Tashkent. His father was a state prosecutor. Usmanov initially aimed to become a diplomat and moved to Moscow, where he eventually gained admission to the Moscow State Institute of International Relations after a year of failed attempts.

He graduated in 1976 with a degree in international law. He later returned to Tashkent and was appointed as the director of the Foreign Economic Association of the Soviet Peace Committee.

After graduating from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1976, he worked in various Uzbek government institutions and a factory outside Moscow. Usmanov later worked at a Moscow investment firm and became the CEO of Gazprom invest-holding, the asset management unit of the world’s largest gas producer and exporter, where he worked closely with the new management team under then-President Vladimir Putin.

Usmanov became a millionaire in dollars before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He established a for-profit cooperative named Agroplast, which specialized in producing plastic bags. Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, he experienced a significant increase in wealth.

Connection to Putin and USM Holdings

According to the Official Journal of the European Union, Usmanov has been labeled a “pro-Kremlin oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin,” and is reportedly considered one of Putin’s preferred oligarchs. He is believed to be one of the Russian businessman-officials responsible for managing financial flows, but their positions are subject to the President’s discretion.

Through USM and personal investments, Usmanov holds a diverse range of assets, including but not limited to iron ore and steel, media, and internet businesses. He has full voting rights with his 49% ownership of USM, a global conglomerate with significant interests in metals and mining, telecommunications, technology, and media.

Career At Metalloinvest

Usmanov and his business partner Vasiliy Anisimov created Metalloinvest to manage his metal sector purchases. Unlike Russian tycoons who gained control of their empires through loans-for-share privatization schemes, Usmanov built Metalloinvest through acquisitions. Metalloinvest manages a varied portfolio of Russian metal and mining firms, including Lebedinsky GOK and Mikhailovsky GOK, Oskol Electrometallurgical Plant, and Ural Steel steel mills as Ural Scrap Company, a ferrous scrap operation.

How did Alisher Usmanov get so rich?

Alisher Usmanov became rich through metal and mining operations, investments, and business ventures. He set up a plastic bag production company before the collapse of the Soviet Union, which helped him become a millionaire.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he enriched himself considerably through metal and mining operations and investments. He created Metalloinvest with his business partner to manage his metal sector purchases, which holds a diverse range of Russian metal and mining companies, including steel mills and ferrous scrap operations.

In addition, he is also a co-owner of Russia’s second-largest mobile phone operator, MegaFon, and has investments in various international technology companies.

Career Udokan Copper

In 2008, Usmanov bought the Udokan license, which contained one of the world’s largest copper deposits, discovered during the Soviet era. Geologists estimate that 26.7 million tonnes of copper ore are in the deposit, according to the JORC classification.

In 2020, Baikal Mining Company (formerly known as Udokan copper) restarted strip mining at the Udokan mine, which had been inactive since 1949 due to its remote location and harsh weather.

The development of Udokan includes the first phase of a mining and metallurgical plant for producing cathode copper and copper concentrate, as well as the production of up to 125,000 tons of copper and 12 million tons of ore per year. Group and Megafon group is now rebranded as VK.

Usmanov was introduced to Yuri Milner in 2008 and subsequently invested in DST and VK, ultimately owning a 58.1% stake in VK after selling a $530 million stake.

In 2013, Usmanov’s VK acquired Pavel Durov’s shares in to assist Durov in retaining control over the Telegram app when UCP made a claim on it.

Usmanov recognizes that his involvement in the group and VK has aided his growth in USM.

Usmanov was the majority stakeholder of MegaFon, Russia’s second-largest mobile telephone operator, as of March 2022.

Investments in Football Club

Usmanov is known for his passion for football and has invested in several football clubs worldwide. Usmanov’s investments in football clubs have been driven by his love for the sport and his belief in the commercial potential of football.

In 2007, he became a shareholder in Arsenal FC, one of the top football clubs in the English Premier League, and he later increased his stake in the club to 30%. Usmanov’s investment in Arsenal helped the club to improve its finances and make significant improvements in its squad.

In addition to Arsenal, Usmanov has invested in Everton FC, another Premier League club. Usmanov’s investment in Everton has been seen as a significant boost to the club’s financial stability and its ability to compete with other top Premier League teams.

He has been known to invest in football clubs with strong growth potential and a solid fan base. His investments in Arsenal and Everton have helped to secure their financial future and ensure their long-term success.

Philanthropic Work

Alisher Usmanov has been recognized as a generous philanthropist, having personally donated more than £4.2 billion to charity through his businesses over the 20-year history of The Sunday Times Giving List.

In 2012, he was named Philanthropist of the Year by Russian Forbes. Usmanov founded the “Art, Science and Sport” Charity Fund in 2006, collaborating with London’s Tate Britain on several projects in Russia, including the Turner exhibition in 2009 and the Pre-Raphaelites exhibition in 2013. In 2015, he donated €1.5 million to restore Rome’s Basilica Ulpia.

He donated £134.2 million to Russia, Uzbekistan, and Italy during the COVID period. Usmanov stated in an interview with the Financial Times that he plans to leave his assets to his family and USM management, with 50% going to each, to give back to those who have helped him.

In 2007, Alisher Usmanov purchased an art collection previously owned by Mstislav Rostropovich for over £20 million and donated it to the Russian state. After acquiring the rights to a collection of Soviet cartoons previously owned by Oleg Vidov for an estimated $5-10 million, Usmanov donated it to a newly established Russian children’s television channel.

Alisher Usmanov has received several awards and honors for his services to the state and his philanthropic activities. In 2004, he was awarded the Medal of Honor of Russia, and in 2011, he received the Order of Friendship of the Republic of Kazakhstan. He was also awarded the Order for Service to the Fatherland IV class, a medal ‘For contribution to international cooperation,’ and the Order of Alexander Nevsky for his charitable activities.

In 2016, Usmanov received The Decoration “For Beneficence” and the Al-Fahr Order for his contributions to charitable and social activities and the revival of Islam in Russia. In 2018, he received the Order “For Merit to the Fatherland,” 3rd class.

Alisher Usmanov Yacht

Alisher Usmanov owns a luxury yacht called Dilbar, named after his mother. It was built by the German shipyard Lürssen and is one of the largest yachts in the world, measuring 156 meters (511 feet) in length. Dilbar has a steel hull and an aluminum superstructure, and can accommodate up to 40 guests and 80 crew members. The yacht features a helipad, swimming pool, cinema, and a spa, among other amenities.



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