Bulat Zhamitovich Utemuratov
13 November 1957
|Net worth||US$2.3 billion (2015)|
|Spouse(s)||Utemuratova (Baishuakova) Azhar Abzhamiyevna|
Bulat Zhamitovich Utemuratov (also called Bolat, Kazakh: Болат Жамитұлы Өтемұратов; Russian: Булат Жамитович Утемуратов, born 13 November 1957) is a Kazakhstani businessman, society figure, diplomat and philanthropist. Utemuratov is currently the richest person in Kazakhstan.
Public and charity activity
In the frame of his mandate of President of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, Bulat Utemuratov has developed various charity associations in relation with this sport for Kazakh youth. Upon his initiative, the "Team Kazakhstan" tennis Academy was created specifically to train promising players of the national tennis team. Since 2010, Kazakhstan is regularly ranked among the world's top tennis nations. From September 2015, Utemuratov has been a board member of the International Tennis Federation. In 2017, the International Tennis Federation and Asian Tennis Federation awarded Bulat Utemuratov for transcendent merit in the development of tennis in the region
In February 2014 he founded the Private Charity Fund of Bulat Utemuratov and he has been a member of the Board of Trustees ever since. The main goal of the Fund is working towards the healthy development of autistic children and providing adequate child support.
Bulat Utemuratov is one of the most prolific entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan. His first large project was the development of the “ATF Bank” and its successful sale to UniCredit (from 1995 until November 2007). During that time, the bank grew from a small financial institution to a large multi-regional and multi-product financial group with 160 branches. Unicredit acquired ATF Bank for $2.1 billion in 2007 and Utemuratov reportedly made $785 million from the sale.
Subsequent reports suggested that Utemuratov's stake in ATF had been larger than previously known and that he and family members made more than $1 billion from the sale. The deal turned out to be a poor one for Unicredit and within a year of acquiring ATF, the Italian bank had written down the value by €500 million. Unicredit sold ATF in 2013 for just $500 million.
After the 2009 crisis, the following banks were created: Kassa Nova, the first microcredit bank in Kazakhstan and ForteBank, a business bank. In May 2014, Samruk-Kazyna SWF closed a sale of its shares in Temirbank and part of its shares in Aliance Bank to businessman Bulat Utemuratov. Bulat Utemuratov is a key fund investor (not a shareholder) of Verny Capital investment group, together with VEON he also owns two telecommunications operators –"KarTel" in Kazakhstan and "SkyMobile" in Kyrgyzstan operating under the brand: Beeline. In May 2016, he led the list of the 50 richest businessmen of Kazakhstan with an estimated capital of USD 2,4 billion.
Utemuratov and President Nazarbayev
After Kazakhstan became an independent country in 1991, President Nursultan Nazarbayev selected Utemuratov to go to Vienna and find economic opportunities for the new republic . After Utemuratov returned, he stayed close to President Nazarbayev and held several senior roles in the Kazakh government.
This included Secretary of the Security Council from 2003 to 2006 and head of the President’s private office from 2006 to 2008.
From 2008 to 2013 he was described as an “adviser to the President” and he also held a role as a special representative to Kyrgyzstan.
This close relationship between Utemuratov and President Nazarbayev has led to questions about the origins of Utemuratov’s wealth. According to a letter written by members of Kazakhstan’s opposition, Utemuratov was given access to cheap mining assets that he later sold for billions of dollars.
In a letter to the London Stock Exchange, they opposition leaders said: "Bulat Utemuratov, the former head of administration for the President of Kazakhstan, is a co-owner of Kazzinc. Utemuratov is widely believed to be holding these assets for the benefit of Nazarbayev."
This close relationship with President Nazarbayev led to Utemuratov being given the nickname “the grey cardinal” in Kazakhstan. He was also described as President Nazarbayev’s “personal financial manager” in a US diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks.
Utemuratov and Glencore
Glencore International, the Swiss-based mining and commodities company, acquired the Vasilkovskoye gold mine in Kazakhstan from Utemuratov’s Verny Capital. As part of this transaction, Verny was given shares in Kazzinc – Glencore’s copper subsidiary in Kazakhstan. When Glencore announced its initial public offering (IPO) in London in 2011, the company said that some of the proceeds would be used to buy back the Kazzinc shares held by Verny Capital
In 2012, Glencore bought the Kazzinc shares back from Verny Capital for $1.359 billion , including $400 million in cash and the rest in Glencore shares. Since that transaction, Utemuratov and Glencore have done several other deals together and this has raised concerns about the nature of the relationship. In 2015, Glencore bought Utemuratov’s Gulfstream private jet in an undisclosed transaction. The plane, which has the registration M-VRNY in reference to Verny Capital, is owned by a British Virgin Islands company called Mirtos. Glencore acquired Mirtos and its assets in 2015 for an unknown price.
In 2012, Glencore’s Kazzinc subsidiary bought a 56% in a private school called Haileybury Astana for $23 million. The company wrote off this investment and in 2016 transferred it to Utemuratov’s charity for free. The school was opened by President Nazarbayev.
The Times quoted a spokeswoman for Utemuratov saying he: "is neither a middleman, nor proxy for President Nazarbayev" and that he had not profited from his relationship with the President.
In 2013, Glencore gave a loan to Astana Property Management (APM), a company owned by Bulat Utemuratov via Verny Capital. The loan was to finance APM’s construction of the Talan Towers hotel and apartment complex in Astana, Kazakhstan. Glencore loaned a total of $237 million to the project but the miner was forced to write off $96.5 million in 2018 after reported poor performance .
Awards of the Republic of Kazakhstan:
Wife- Utemuratova (Baishuakova) Azhar Abzhamiyevna. Children: sons Alidar Utemuratov (born in 1979) and Anuar Utemuratov (born in 1983), daughter Dinara (born in 1998).
- "The World's Billionaires".
- "Press Releases 1999". unece.org.
- "Kazakhstan Tennis Federation -". ktf.kz.
- "Kazakh Billionaire Said to Weigh Bid as State Sells Banks". Bloomberg L.P. 9 April 2013.
- "Kazakh Billionaire Says He's Got Nothing to Hide".
- "UniCredit in talks to sell stake in Kazakhstan's ATF Bank-sources".
- "UPDATE 2-Unicredit wraps up Kazakh unit sale for $500 mln – source".
- "Kazzinc, Verny to Buy Kazakh Gold Producer for 30 Billion Tenge". Bloomberg L.P. 19 February 2013.
- "Kazakh Billionaire Says He's Got Nothing to Hide". Bloomberg L.P. 13 November 2013.
- "О награждении государственными наградами республики казахстан". kazakhstan.news-city.info.
- "Вручение государственных наград – Номад – 16.12.2014". nomad.su.