Dmitry Rybolovlev, 2012
|Native name||Дмитрий Евгеньевич Рыболовлев|
22 November 1966 |
Perm, Soviet Union
|Residence||Monte Carlo, Monaco|
|Net worth||$8.5 billion (June 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, and philanthropist. 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 2015 Rybolovlev was ranked 156th on Forbes's list of billionaires with a net worth of $8.5 billion. In May 2014, a Swiss court ordered him to pay over $4.5 billion to his former wife Elena, which was believed to be the most expensive divorce settlement in history. In June 2015, it was announced that Rybolovlev had won his appeal against the 2014 judgement and that the settlement to be made to his former wife was reduced to approximately 564 million Swiss francs.
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.
AS Monaco FC
In December 2011 a trust acting on behalf of Rybolovlev's daughter, Ekaterina, bought a 66% stake in the Monegasque association football club AS Monaco FC, who are located in Monaco's Fontvieille district at the Stade Louis II, but who play in the French football league. The remaining 33% stake in the club is owned by Monaco's ruling family, the House of Grimaldi, and Rybolovlev's purchase of the club was approved by Prince Albert II of Monaco. Dmitry Rybolovlev was subsequently appointed president of the club.
Though historically AS Monaco had been one of France's most successful clubs, they were struggling at the time of Rybolovlev's arrival, and had been demoted to the second tier of French football, Ligue 2. Étienne Franzi, AS Monaco's former president, and the DNCG, the French football authority, both gave positive assessments of the club's progress after Rybolovlev's first year of ownership in December 2012. In May 2013, Monaco was promoted to Ligue 1 after securing the second division title. After gaining promotion AS Monaco became one of the most prodigious spenders in European football in the summer of 2013 under Rybolovlev's patronage, spending £146 million on players including Radamel Falcao, James Rodríguez, and João Moutinho. Ricardo Carvalho and Eric Abidal were also signed on free transfers with large salaries.
In January 2014 AS Monaco agreed to pay the governing body of French football, the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP), a one-off voluntary payment of € 50 million to remain exempt from a ruling by the LFP that its clubs must have their head offices located in France. As AS Monaco is based in the tax haven of Monaco it has managed to avoid the punitive effects of tax increases in neighbouring France. Rybolovlev and the head of the French league, Noël Le Graët, had initially failed to find agreement over the matter in a meeting and Rybolovlev had initiated legal action against the league which was later dropped. The €50 million figure was calculated by the league as the amount saved by AS Monaco a result of their unique location.
Rodriguez and Falcao subsequently left AS Monaco in the summer of 2014; Falcao left on loan to Manchester United, and Rodriguez was sold to Real Madrid for almost double his initial transfer fee to Monaco a year earlier. The departure of such large signings was explained by AS Monaco's vice president, Vadim Vasilyev, as part of a new strategy, who said that "There are two ways to go...One is either you invest a lot of money and do it quickly, the other is you build up an intelligent project and you have to base yourself on your academy and sound principles of working and scouting well and basically that's what we've decided to do." The departure of star players and a decline in spending was also attributed by Vasilyev to the introduction of the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations and the resultant threat of sanctions. Vasilyev said in an interview that Rybolovlev had told him that he was "...already investing big money and if the club has to pay fines over and on top of that, this is something that is really not on. This really goes against any common sense". It was also reported by L'Equipe in September 2013 that the decline in investment was as a result of Rybolovlev's dissatisfaction at not receiving a Monegasque passport which might afford him greater protection from extradition to his native Russia than his Cypriot passport if such a situation were to occur. In a March 2015 interview with Nice Matin, Rybolovlev re-iterated his long-term commitment to the club and also expressed his delight at AS Monaco's successes since his arrival.
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.
Trusts in the name of his Rybolovlev's daughter, Ekaterina, have made several significant property purchases around the world since 2008. The trusts have bought property in Florida, Hawaii, New York City, Monaco, and two islands in Greece. Rybolovlev also owns an estate in Saint-Tropez on the Cote d'Azur in the south of France, houses in Gstaad, Switzerland, and owned property in Geneva and Paris with his former wife. In 2013 the property purchases were contested by Rybolovlev's wife, Elena Rybolovleva, during the couple's divorce proceedings.
- United States
In 2008 Ekaterina Rybolovlev's trust bought the 18 bedroom Maison de L'Amitié in Palm Beach, Florida, from the American businessman Donald Trump for $95 million. In December 2011, the trust bought a 10-room, 626 sq m apartment at 15 Central Park West in New York City for $88 million, from Joan Weill, the wife of Sanford I. Weill, the former chairman of Citigroup. This was a record price for an apartment in the city at the time of its purchase. In 2011 Rybololev also bought a $20 million property in Kauai, Hawaii, from the American actor Will Smith.
In April 2013 Ekaterina Rybolovlev's trust bought a group of companies from the Greek heiress Athina Onassis Roussel at a cost of $154 million, their assets included the 74 acre Greek island of Skorpios and its smaller islet, Sparti. The sale price had earlier been reported as $154 million.
In 2010 Rybolovlev bought a three bedroom 2,000m2 Belle Époque style penthouse apartment on the Avenue d'Ostende in the Monte Carlo district of Monaco. The property was bought for € 220 million and was the former residence of the Lebanese banker Edmond Safra, who died in a fire at the apartment in 1999.
Rybolovlev and his former wife owned a property in Geneva, Switzerland, which they demolished in 2008 and planned to replace with a replica of the Petit Trianon at the Palace of Versailles. The abandonment of the project amidst the couple's divorce proceedings led to a "huge hole in the ground that has become an eyesore to Geneva residents" according to Alexei Barrionuevo in a 2012 article in the New York Times. Rybolovlev also bought two houses worth $135 million in the Swiss resort of Gstaad.
Rybolovlev's art collection includes paintings by Paul Gauguin, Auguste Rodin, Amedeo Modigliani (Nude on a Blue Cushion), Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Mark Rothko (No. 6). His version of Salvator Mundi may be the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci remaining in private hands. In February 2015, it was reported that Rybolovlev may have been a victim of a complex art fraud allegedly perpetrated by the art dealer Yves Bouvier who was indicted on charges of fraud and complicity in money laundering.
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.”  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's ex-wife previously rejected an $800 million settlement offer from her husband. She wanted more of the settlement to flow to her and less to her children, the New York Times reported.
Nonetheless, in May 2014, a Geneva court awarded Rybolovlev's ex-wife a record settlement of $4.8 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.
Rybolovlev's 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.
June 2015 saw a major turn in the case after Rybolovlev's lawyers successfully appealed the 2014 ruling. The Geneva court reversed the earlier decision, ruling that Rybolovleva's settlement be reduced to 564 million Swiss francs, significantly less than the 800 million Swiss francs that Rybolovlev had repeatedly offered her. Of particular significance was the decision of the court to confirm the validity of the family trust structures, which were set up long before the divorce process began; and to apply a rate of capital appreciation to matrimonial assets only up until the time of the divorce. The correct application of Swiss matrimonial law thereby led to the massive settlement reduction decided by the court, Rybolovlev's lawyers said.
Rybolovlev enjoys surfing, especially in Hawaii.
In the Forbes billionaires list for 2015 Rybolovlev was ranked the 156th richest person in the world with a net worth of $8.5 billion.
|Net worth ($ billion)||1.6||3.3||12.8||3.1||8.6||9.5||9||9.1||8.8||8.5|
|Rank (in the world)||486||271||59||196||79||93||100||119||147||156|
|Rank (in Russia)||14|
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