Igor Linshits was born on 18 December 1963 in Rustavi, Georgia, in the former USSR to two engineers. After attending school in Rustavi, Linshits studied chemical engineering at the Lomonosov Institute of Fine Chemical Technology in Moscow, graduating in 1988.
Linshits became an Israeli citizen in 2008.
Early business ventures
The cooperative movement in the former Soviet Union was expanding rapidly at the end of the 1980s, with the government encouraging the creation of thousands of private cooperatives. Linshits took his first job as a worker in one such cooperative, which produced plastic products. He was promoted several times and, in less than 18 months, left to set up his first business, the Contacts Cooperative, which manufactured hairbrushes and combs for distribution to the Russian market from a factory in Moscow.
In 1990 Linshits wound up Contacts Co-operative and became a partner of Soviet American Enterprise (SAP), one of Russia’s largest oil products trading and processing businesses. A year later he became the company’s first Deputy Director General. At this time, SAP was also responsible for restructuring and modernising a number of oil refineries.
After three years, the SAP partnership was disbanded, with each of the partners taking a part of the business. Linshits used his part to set up his own venture, a group of companies that primarily refined and traded oil products and traded under the Neftyanoi banner.
In the late 1990s, Linshits expanded Neftyanoi’s activities in non-oil commodities, winning a government contract to supply Russian wheat to Uzbekistan in exchange for cotton. By 1997 Neftyanoi controlled 50% of the Russian cotton market and also had large trading positions in other agricultural commodities.
From trade to investment
In 1998 Linshits added Stavropol Polymer, a loss-making petrochemical factory in Budyonnovsk, to his Neftyanoi group. In a joint venture with Lukoil, then Russia’s largest private oil company, Linshits transformed Stavropol Polymer into the highly successful Lukoil-Neftekhim (which is known as Lukoil Chemical in English). Two years later, Neftyanoi sold its stake in Lukoil Chemical to Lukoil. Lukoil Chemical is now one of Russia’s largest and most up-to-date petrochemical producers.
In 2000, Neftyanoi group purchased Extra‑M, a Russian pasta brand with a large factory in Moscow. Linshits introduced a new corporate strategy that included upgrading the production facilities and investing heavily in new branding, advertising, and distribution. As a result, Extra‑M became one of the most popular pasta brands in Russia. Neftyanoi sold Extra‑M to Agros (part of the Interros Group) in 2003.
Also in 2000, Linshits’ Neftyanoi bought a 10% stake in mail.ru, then a largely unknown Russian internet portal. Over the next few years, Neftyanoi increased its stake in the company to more than 30%, making it the second largest shareholder. In 2006 Neftyanoi sold its stake in mail.ru – by then one of Russia’s most successful internet portals - to Tiger Fund and Digital Sky Technologies for more than $100 million.
Linshits moved into real estate in 2001, setting up a new company called Delin Development. Specialising in office property, Delin Development quickly became one of the leading developers in Moscow. Its largest project was Silver City, a 60,000 sq m, class‑A office building in the city centre. Silver City and Delin’s other office developments were sold in 2008, at the peak of the Russian real estate market, to primarily international investors. Press reports at the time suggest that Silver City was sold for $350 million.
In 2004 Linshits purchased a 90% stake in Mosinzhstroi, one of Russia’s largest construction companies and a leading infrastructure provider to the City of Moscow. In 2008 Mosinzhstroi had a $1 billion turnover.
Absence from Russia
In 2006 the Russian authorities accused certain employees of Neftyanoi Bank of banking regulation violations, possibly because of their support and funding of opposition parties. Linshits was also accused as the owner of the Bank. At this time, Linshits moved to Israel and in 2008 moved to the United Kingdom. In 2010 all charges against Linshits were dropped after the Russian prosecutor concluded that no law had been broken. Linshits returned to Russia in 2012.
Linshits’ main business is now the London-based investment company Delin Capital, of which he is Chairman and CEO.
- e.g., http://wiki-linki.ru/Citates/59354