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Alisher Usmanov The Mysterious Oligarch

by kraju

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“My experience indicates that most people who’ve accumulated a great deal of wealth haven’t had that as their goal at all. Wealth is only a by-product, not the original motivation ” said Michael Milken an American financier and Philanthropist noted for his role in the development of the market for high yield bonds in 1970’s and 80’s. It is a clear testament of how individuals achieve unparalleled success and wealth in their lives, often through their intellect aided by academic knowledge, risk taking abilities and more of all a sense of deep belief in their instinct. Alisher Usmanov, the 59 year old Uzbek born Russian business magnate is one among them, very few men come unscathed after early turbulence in their lives, but this man who resembles an inflated Bob Hoskins has achieved unparalleled success in his professional life, has a diverse business portfolio from owning Russia’s biggest iron ore producer to a stake in its largest internet company and a sizeable chunk of the mobile phone firm MegaFon. Like other Russian Billionaires Alisher Usmanov acquired his wealth from oil and gas and enjoying political support from the Yeltsin and Putin regimes. He is also a major share holder 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.

Political Cult

Dubbed as the “Hardman of Russia”, he enjoys extensive ties with Putin’s regime and once curried favor by paying £ 20 million for art collection of the late cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and handed it over to the Russian state. He also rescued the Bolshoi ballet from bankruptcy and given millions in charities, most notably to the Russian Arts and Sports Foundation, these gifts were all astute political moves by a man always to keen to show his nationalistic credentials in contrast to other oligarchs who spend their time travelling in their private jets and indulging in worldly pleasures.

Usmanov, son of a former state prosecutor in Tashkent was born in 1953 in Chust Namangan region of Uzbekistan; he graduated with a degree in international law to pursue his dream of becoming a diplomat. He faced turbulent times early in his career, he was imprisoned for six years on charges of fraud and extortion. He was acquitted in July 2000 by the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan when it ruled that “the original conviction was unjust and no crime was ever committed and evidence fabricated”.

Fortune out of Plastic Bags

His astonishing fortune had humble beginnings, more than twenty five years ago, Usmanov identified a huge market in Russia for plastic bags, a necessity which was not found in Russia, Usmanov invested in the machinery used to make plastic bags and sooner he cornered the market of Russia. He runs an iron and steel business and holds a 45 percent stake in Russia’s largest iron producer, Metalloinvest. He has diversified his business to telecom, timber and most recently the internet. The Surrey based business magnate also has a 30 percent stake in Arsenal Football Club Usmanov, with a net worth of 17.7 billion has been named the richest man in the U.K., as per Sunday Times, he also paid a whopping $ 300 million for an Airbus and named it “Bourkhan” after his father. The Uzbek-born businessman is a huge fan of English football in general and Arsenal in particular and owns 30 percent of the club’s shares. The 34th richest person in the world is one of the key backers for Russia to host the 2018 Football World Cup. He is also the chairman of Gazprominvest holdings, the investment holding subsidiary of Russia’s state owned gas company Gazprom. In 2006, he began to invest in the media and bought Kommersant, a newspaper formerly owned by Russian Oligarch Boris Berezovsky for $ 200 million, he also made a $ 25 million purchase of  a 50 percent stake in Russian sports channel 7TV. His company Digital Sky Technologies had (DST) had earlier invested in Facebook, Zynga, Twitter and Groupon, he recently bought shares of Apple amounting to $ 100 million. The Russian billionaire, whose assets are more than the GDP of Lithuania and Kenya is married to Irina Viner, a rhythmic gymnastics coach, the Muslim Oligarch and his Jewish wife are childless. The couple have donated millions of dollars for charity and even purchased a well known art collection for the state museum.

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