Dmitry Rybolovlev, 2012
|Native name||Дмитрий Евгеньевич Рыболовлев|
22 November 1966 |
Perm, Soviet Union
|Residence||Monte Carlo, Monaco|
|Net worth||US$8.5 billion (March 2015)|
Board member of
|Co–Owner of Uralkali
Majority Shareholder of Bank of Cyprus
Dmitry Yevgenyevich Rybolovlev (Russian: Дмитрий Евгеньевич Рыболовлев; Russian pronunciation: [ˈdmʲitrʲɪj ɪvˈɡʲenʲɪvʲɪtɕ rɨbɐˈlovlʲɪf], born 22 November 1966) is a Russian businessman, investor, philanthropist and the owner of AS Monaco FC. Rybolovlev owned the potash producer Uralkali and in 2011 became the majority owner and President of the French football club AS Monaco. His 25-year-old daughter Ekaterina Rybolovleva is a well known socialite.
In 2010 he ranked #79 in Forbes' billionaire's list. In 2015, he was ranked #156 among Forbes billionaires, with a net worth of $8.5 billion. On May 19, 2014 a Swiss court ordered him to pay over $4.5 billion to his ex-wife Elena, which is believed to be the most expensive divorce settlement in history. However, both sides in the case have acknowledged that the Swiss ruling is far from a final decision and that the case is set to continue for a prolonged period, across multiple jurisdictions.
Early life and education
Dmitry Rybolovlev was born in 1966. Rybolovlev's parents were doctors and he himself graduated from the Perm Medical Institute as a cardiologist in 1990. He then started to work in the cardiology emergency service. During his student years, Rybolovlev married Elena, one of his fellow students, and in 1989 their first daughter Ekaterina was born. In the late 1980s Mikhail Gorbachev had started the perestroika that eventually led to the break-up of the Soviet Union and the great economic shocks that followed. During this time Rybolovlev entered the business world. Rybolovlev has said that, as a child growing up in the Soviet Union, he became inspired by the 1912 novel by Theodore Dreiser, "The Financier", which tells the story of a man who makes his first fortune in Philadelphia selling soap and then goes on to invest successfully in the stock market.
Early business career
Rybolovlev’s first business project was a medical one: together with his father, Evgeny, he set up a company called Magnetics that offered a form of alternative medical treatment using magnetic fields that Evgeny had developed. However due to the collapse of the Soviet Union's centrally planned economy companies preferred to pay Rybolovlev’s firm with products at discounted prices rather than cash, forcing him to find buyers for these products. Often these resales of products yielded higher profits than his medicine business. According to Forbes Magazine, during this time Rybolovlev earned his first million dollars.
In 1992 Rybolovlev became the first businessman in the Perm region to obtain a Russian Ministry of Finance certificate entitling him to deal with securities, and in the same year opened an investment company. In 1994 Rybolovlev founded a bank, acquired shareholdings in several of Perm’s industrial enterprises and joined their boards.
Development of Uralkali
Over the next 15 years Rybolovlev focused on developing Uralkali and eventually built it into a major global enterprise. According to the Russian business newspaper Vedomosti, by 2000 he had consolidated his controlling interest in the company and begun to reform and develop it. He completely changed the management team and set as a priority the achievement of an increase in labor productivity. According to Forbes, from 2000 through 2007 labor productivity at Uralkali grew by 2.5 times.
According to Reuters in 2005 Uralkali and Belarusian potash producer Belaruskali combined their trade flows via a single trader: Belarusian Potash Company (BPC), of which Rybolovlev became chief executive. Over the next three years, potash prices increased more than fivefold. The price increase and the creation of BPC both had a transformational impact on Uralkali. In 2007 Uralkalis IPO on the London Stock Exchange coincided with the sharply rising global potash prices and was therefore described by the financial media as one of the most successful Russian IPOs ever.
Shortly before the IPO one of Uralkali's mines had been flooded. The Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda estimated that Uralkali lost several hundred million dollars. In 2008 the Russian government investigated the accident and a government commission determined that it had occurred for geological reasons. However in October 2008, Russian Vice Premier Igor Sechin ordered another investigation and suggested that the degree of the financial liability of Uralkali should be determined. Some foreign media, including the New York Times, speculated that a raider attack had been launched against Uralkali. Although some parallels were drawn with the Yukos case ultimately a framework for compensation was agreed upon and Rybolovlev retained ownership of Uralkali.
In June 2010, Rybolovlev sold a 53% shareholding in Uralkali to a group of Russian investors: Kaliha Finance Limited (Suleiman Kerimov, 25%), Aerellia Investments Limited (Alexander Nesis, 15%) and Becounioco Holdings Limited (Filaret Galchev, 13.2%). The transaction price was not disclosed, but was reported to be around US$5.3 billion.
In December 2010, Uralkali announced plans to buy potash producer, Silvinit and form one of the world's largest potash producers. The merger was finalized in July 2011, Rybolovlev had already sold the remaining 10% of his shares of Uralkali to a company owned by Alexander Nesis in April 2011.
Investment in Bank of Cyprus
In September 2010, Rybolovlev bought a 9.7% stake in Cyprus largest bank Bank of Cyprus. Rybolovlev's investment in Bank of Cyprus followed a long business and personal association with the country, which has also included his decision to support the construction of the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Limassol.
On 25 March 2013 the EU Eurogroup agreed with the government of Cyprus that the Bank of Cyprus will take over the remnants of Laiki Bank. To finance the deal and save Bank of Cyprus from bankruptcy it was also decided that accounts over €100,000 would suffer a haircut on their assets of about 90%. In exchange account holders would receive shares in the Bank of Cyprus, diluting Rybolovlev's stake in the bank.
Monaco Football Club
Rybolovlev’s purchase of the club was agreed upon with Prince Albert of Monaco. At one time a leading club in the French league and at European level, Monaco was struggling at the time and had been demoted to France’s Ligue 2. In May 2013, Monaco was promoted to Ligue 1 after securing the second division title. In the summer of 2013 Monaco were one of the biggest spenders in Europe, spending roughly 140 million pounds on players including Radamel Falcao, James Rodríguez and João Moutinho. Falcao joined for 52.8 million pounds and Rodriguez and Moutinho for a combined fee of 61.6 million pounds. Smaller signings including Éric Abidal and Ricardo Carvalho were also made on free transfers.
Étienne Franzi, the former president of the club, was quoted in the local French newspaper Nice-Matin in December 2012, one year after Rybolovlev took over as president, as saying: "Mr. Rybolovlev has fulfilled all the obligations he had taken during the handover." Similarly, the DNCG, the French football authority, also gave a positive endorsement of Rybolovlev's first year in charge, being quoted in the same article as saying: "Monaco has the right approach and is advancing in the right direction."
Speaking to Paris Match in November 2013, Rybolovlev revealed that, before acquiring his stake in AS Monaco, he once considered purchasing Manchester United F.C.. However, he said that Monaco is a team with a long and glorious history, and also both a local and national club at the same time, and, in that respect, unique.
In the 2013-14 season, in only its first year back in the top flight of French football, Monaco achieved second place in Ligue 1, comfortably qualifying for the following year's Champions League competition.
In July 2014, Rybolovlev agreed to sell James Rodriguez, who had been widely regarded as the finest player at the World Cup in Brazil, to Real Madrid for a fee reported to be in the region of 90 million euros. The transaction represented a 100% return for Rybolovlev on the initial investment made in the player, in a period of just one year. Subsequently, another transaction was agreed to loan striker Radamel Falcao to Manchester United for the 2014-15 season, with an option for the English Premier League club to buy the player at a later date.
Regarding the continued upward progress of Monaco under Rybolovlev following the club's successful first season back in the top flight, Goal.com wrote in August 2014 that: "Purchased by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev in 2011, AS Monaco has assembled an ascending side with fine talents", and underlined the importance to the club of its return to European football, "By participating in the Champions League competition, Monaco will gain increased exposure to markets around the world...The club also just signed an agreement with Nike to outfit the team through 2019, while compiling an experienced, international front office set to transform the team into a global brand."
Commenting on Monaco's new long-term strategy based on financial restraint and a robust youth policy, the influential Bleacher Report said in September 2014 that "Monaco's new project is more sustainable and a better long-term plan". Other commentators noted Rybolovlev going against the prevailing trend of the record 2014 summer transfer window by showing restraint and gaining a good return on investment, asking: "Is Dmitry Rybolovlev football's wise man?". Monaco's President, the article said, was developing "a long-term vision based on building the international Monaco brand; developing the youth resources where the club has a rich tradition; and mobilising the passion for the game within the Principality." However, in April 2014, reports emerged that Rybolovlev had started to lose interest in the club as his relationship with Prince Albert of Monaco became strained. Comments are that Rybololev has actually abandoned the Monaco project because the Grimaldi ruler did not offer him a passport in the principality.
Nonetheless, Rybolovlev gave a rare interview to Monaco-Matin in March 2015 in which he re-iterated his long-term commitment to the club and also expressed his delight at Monaco's widely-heralded triumph over Arsenal in the Champions League round of 16, which allowed the team to progress to the Quarter-Finals for the first time in over 10 years. When he became president of the club in 2011, Rybolovlev noted, the team was languishing at the bottom of Ligue 2. After knocking Arsenal out of the Champions League, Monaco became ranked among the top 8 teams in Europe. (Rybolovlev has previously given interviews to Paris Match, L'Equipe and Nice Matin) 
Rybolovlev is an active philanthropist. He supported the re-building of the Oranienbaum palace in St. Petersburg; he supports the Russian Olympians Foundation and the restoration of the Zachatievsky Monastery in Moscow. Rybolovlev donated €17.5 million for the re-building of the Cathedral of Nativity of Theotokos in Moscow. He has also been involved in the restoration of the iconostasis of the Cathedral of Exaltation of the Cross recreated in Belogorsk Saint Nicolas Monastery.
Rybolovlev is also involved in the construction of the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in Limassol, which is designed by the Russian architect Alexey Vorontsov. The Church will have a size of 1050 m² and the building will accommodate a congregation of between 500 and 600 people. The estimated cost of the project is €5 million.
A further project in which Rybolovlev is involved is Les Arts Gstaad, which will see the construction of a new cultural centre dedicated to music, arts and literature in the eponymous Swiss town.
Challenges and controversies
The 1990s were a difficult time in Russian history, as the country transitioned its economy through privatization. Lawlessness and corruption were widely documented and according to local newspapers in Perm, including the likes of Zvezda, several attempts were made against Rybolovlev's life. Rybolovlev became concerned about the safety of his family so he moved them to Switzerland, while he stayed in Russia to do business.
According to Forbes, in May 1996 Rybolovlev initiated the adoption by a meeting of Uralkali shareholders of a resolution regarding the replacement of a trader because of discriminatory sales conditions. The following day Rybolovlev was arrested on a charge of having ordered a contract killing. At the age of 29, he was to remain for the next 11 months in a Perm prison cell. Whilst in prison, Rybolovlev drew on his medical training and offered consultations to fellow prisoners.
In prison, Rybolovlev came under enormous pressure to sell his shares in Uralkali for a large sum of money and in exchange for his freedom. In an interview to Forbes, he said that he had been prepared to remain in prison as long as 10 years – as far as he was concerned his stake in Uralkali was his property and he was unwilling to hand it over to anyone. The case eventually collapsed after investigators found the true culprits and,11 months after his arrest, Rybolovlev was released. In 1997 he was completely acquitted by courts of law at three levels, including the Presidium of the Supreme Court which is the highest judicial authority in Russia.
In February 2015, it emerged that Rybolovlev may have been one victim of a complex art fraud allegedly perpetrated by Yves Bouvier, a well-known figure in the art world. Bouvier has been indicted on charges of fraud and complicity in money laundering.
In 2008, a trust linked to Rybolovlev's daughter Ekaterina purchased the Maison de L’Amitié in Florida from Donald Trump for US$95 million. The Maison de l'Amitie has 18 bedrooms and a large number of halls, rooms and areas for various purposes as well as a winter garden and a swimming pool. Elena Rybolovleva brought against Dmitri Rybolovlev a lawsuit in relation to this purchase and obtained deposition of her husband. He admitted having allocated, in his name, funds to acquire Trump's property and acknowledged he paid taxes and maintenance, in spite of claiming that the property was settled into a trust for the benefit of his daughters.
Rybolovlev acquired the same year a property in the ski resort of Gstaad worth $146 million. He currently faces a claim of $14 million by an American builder for the chalet's hammam, valued at 31 million Swiss Francs.
In December 2011, Ekaterina purchased the most expensive apartment to have been bought at that time in New York for $88 million. The total area of the 10-room apartment, which overlooks Central Park, is 626 square meters.
In 2011 Rybololev reportedly bought a mansion from Will Smith on Kauai, Hawaii, for $20 million. Rybolovlev's ex-wife unsuccessfully attempted to challenge the purchase as part of her claims in the divorce case but her suit was thrown out by a court in Hawaii and later quietly dropped.
In April 2013, Ekaterina Rybolovleva was reported as the buyer of the Skorpios island in Greece, from Athina Onassis Roussel. The sale was completed for the amount of 100 million British pounds (GBP), or approximately 154 million dollars (USD). As reported by Reuters  and other media outlets, a company belonging to a trust acting in the interest of Ekaterina Rybolovleva, completed the purchase of a group of companies owned by Athina Onassis Roussel. Amongst the assets of this group were the Skorpios island and the islet of Sparti. The Greek Government however, is yet to confirm the legality of the purchase by the Russian oligarch. An investigation is currently underway, as Giannis Mihelakis (New Democracy MP) raised the question in the Greek parliament. Specifically, Onassis stated in his will that the island would remain in the family as long as they could afford to cover its maintenance expenses. According to the will, if his descendants could not cover the expenses, the island would be donated either to Olympic Airways or to the state.
In June 2014, the Rybolovlev family held a lavish celebration on Skorpios to mark Ekaterina's 25th birthday, an event that was widely covered by local and international media. Since the legality of the purchase was questioned by Mihelakis, the issue has not been raised further by the media.
In Monaco, Rybolovlev lives in a Belle Epoque penthouse overlooking the harbor, a property that was acquired for a reported $300 million. The businessman's family has been associated with a trend of increasing valuations in the high end real estate sector in the various sectors in which it has invested, including both the Monaco and Manhattan markets.
Awards and honours
In 2010 Rybolovlev was awarded the Order of St. Seraphim of Sarov I degree by Patriarch Kirill for funding the restoration of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God in Zachatyevsky Convent.
Rybolovlev has two daughters, Ekaterina, born in 1989, and Anna, born in 2001.
He is currently going through a divorce, which he rarely discusses in public. Rybolovlev made a rare public comment himself on the matter in an interview on June 3 in French newspaper L’Equipe, referring to the use of media smears: “I have done everything to secure the future of our two daughters and I am only defending their interests. I have every confidence in justice. But I would not be surprised if some false information appeared in the press. Blackmail is not acceptable to me.”  A Swiss court subsequently ruled that Dmitri Rybolovlev had used his eldest daughter Ekaterina as a straw creditor in his attempt to hide assets from his wife in their divorce. In April 2012, Rybolovlev's spokesman admitted that “He was not a model husband. Mr. Rybolovlev never denied the infidelities, but the wife knew about it for many years and passively accepted it.”  Rybolovlev is also reported to have manipulated Ekaterina and bribed her with lavish gifts when she learnt about his affairs with woman young enough to be his daughters.
In May 2014, it was widely reported that a Geneva court had awarded Rybolovlev's ex-wife a record settlement of $4.8 billion. It was revealed that a year earlier, Rybolovlev had turned down a better deal of $1 billion. However, the court also ruled that the trusts created by Rybolovlev for their two daughters were not part of the ruling. “The transfer of property to heirs through the trust structures, in particular to the couple’s children, is therefore immune from legal challenge and is assured,” Rybolovlev's lawyer commented to Forbes. The court nevertheless included the totality of the assets transferred by Rybolovlev to the trustees of two Cypriot trusts in its calculation of the matrimonial assets to be split in equal parts among the spouses, in accordance with Swiss law, thereby disregarding the settlement into trusts. It also awarded Elena Rybolovleva custody over youngest daughter Anna, as well as various real estate assets outside the trusts and fine art and antique items.
His legal team also said they would appeal the ruling. Forbes added that: "The $4.5 billion ruling is certainly not the slam dunk her lawyers would have one think."
Marc Bonnant, the lawyer representing Mrs Rybolovleva, speaking in an interview in December 2014, acknowledged that the May 2014 ruling does not represent a final decision, and that there is a "lengthy process" ahead until any such decision is reached.
In 2014, Rybolovlev won a lawsuit filed by his ex-wife in connection to a property in Hawaii. His ex-wife had attempted to claim that the purchase of the property was in contravention of an order freezing Rybolovlev's assets but the case was dismissed by the judge. In December 2014, it was reported that Mrs Rybolovleva has run out of time to appeal the decision of the judge in Hawaii.
Rybolovlev likes to surf whenever he can, particularly when he is in Hawaii.
In the Forbes list for 2012, published in early 2013, he was ranked 119 in the world with a fortune estimated at $9.1 billion
|Net worth ($ billion)||3.1||8.6||9.5||9.1|
|Rank (in the world)||196||93||119|
|Rank (in Russia)||13|
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- Lesartsgstaad - Stiftung,Kommissionen. Beste Fachleute Und Engagierte Gremien
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