Ruben Vardanyan (businessman)

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Ruben Vardanyan
Ռուբեն Կառլենի Վարդանյան
Ruben Vardanyan businessman.jpg
Born (1968-05-25) 25 May 1968 (age 54)
Known forTroika Dialog, Moscow School of Management Skolkovo, UWC Dilijan, Aurora Prize, Future Armenian

Ruben Karlenovich Vardanyan (Armenian: Ռուբեն Կառլենի Վարդանյան, Russian: Рубен Карленович Варданян; born May 25, 1968) is an Armenian-born Russian businessman. He is the former Chief executive officer and shareholder of the Troika Dialog investment bank.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Ruben Vardanyan was born on 25 May 1968, in Yerevan. In 1985 he graduated with honours from Yerevan state school. In 1985, he enrolled in MSU Faculty of Economics. After completing his first year, he did military service in Soviet Azerbaijan and Armenia. In 1992 he graduated with honours from the Faculty of Economics.[3][4]

Vardanyan had been trained in Cassa di Risparmio di Torino Italian saving bank in Turin and had completed a course on developing markets at Merrill Lynch in NY (1992).[3][5] Afterwards, he completed short-term courses at INSEAD (Fontainebleau, France, 2000), Harvard Business School (2001, 2005, 2018), Yale University and Stanford GSB (2012, 2013).[6]


Troika Dialog[edit]

In September 1990, Vardanyan was introduced to Peter Derby by Pavel Teplukhin. Vardanyan and Derby founded Troika Dialog on 18th March 1991. Vardanyan worked at the company, first as an expert and headed the IPO department. In 1992 Vardanyan entered the executive board and became the executive director. Later he became the president, CEO and chairman of the board of directors of the company. He held the post until the company was sold out.[3][7] In the early 2000s Troika had its offices in the New York and London.[8] As of 2011, the partners held 63.6% of "Troika Dialog" shares, with 40% owned by Vardanyan. At financial year-end 2010, "Troika" assets totaled $5.75 bln, $872 mln equity and $42.346 mln revenue.[9][10] On March 11, 2011, Sberbank announced 100% acquisition of "Troika Dialog",[11] the transaction was finalized on January 23, 2012[12] The merger resulted in the launch of Sberbank CIB, a corporate investment business. In 2012 the asset management business merged into united holding, consolidating product ranges and executive boards of Sberbank on the base of "Troika Dialog". In 2018 Sberbank announced the merge of investment and corporate businesses into a single block.[13] Since the sale of "Troika Dialog" up to 2015, Vardanyan co-headed Sberbank CIB, also holding posts of the presidential adviser and Sberbank's chairman of the board.[6]

In March 2011, Sberbank acquired 100% of "Troika" shares for $1 bn.[14] The agreement also included Troika's partners bonuses for 3 years, thus the overall deal cost totaled $1.4 bln. Before the sale, Vardanyan owned the major block of shares (40%), estimated at $560 mln. In requital he was offered 20.5% in AvtoVAZ and 27.3% in Kamaz, later sold out with a profit. By 2013 Forbes estimated Vardanyan's net worth at $800 mln.[10]

On March 4, 2019, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) published an investigation on the Troika Laundromat, reporting on its network of 76 offshore companies, facilitating around $4.6 bln.[8][15] Later Vardanyan commented on the investigation, stating that the company "always strived to perform only under the strict principles of legitimacy and transparency".[16] Austrian prosecution service found no grounds to open an official investigation on the offshore network of Troika Dialog.[17]

Investment Projects after Troika[edit]

In 2013 Vardanyan along with Mikhail Broitman started Vardanyan, Broitman and Co, an investment company.[18] As of 2018, Vardanyan owned 75% of the company.[19] Its assets include shares in Ameriabank, UFS Transport operator, and several venture projects (Lamoda, Pronutria, NtechLab). Major investments are placed in real estate management. In 2013 Vardanyan acquired a 50% share in Avica Management Company, an investment fund, established by Gagik Adibekyan's RD Group. In February 2018 the partners announced a split, dividing real estate assets of estimated $1 bln value. Accprding to the settlement, Vardanyan was to keep office spaces, including Romanov Dvor and Vozdvizhenka business centres. Also in 2018 Vardanyan and Global Blue announced the launch of Global Blue Russia, a first tax-refunding company in Russia.[20][21][22][18][23][24]

In 2015 Ruben Vardanyan launched "Phoenix Advisors", a company engaged in family welfare protection, management and succession planning.[18]

In 2020, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, a Russian NGO led by Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, published an investigation which concerned Santerna Holdings Limited, a company owned by Vardanyan.[25] Citing Santerna's publicly available annual reports, the investigation found that, in 2016, Santerna invested almost $33.45 million in Luchano - a spa business owned by Gulsina Minnikhanova, the wife of the President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov. The annual reports showed that Santerna's auditors applied a $26.8 million impairment charge shortly after the investment, reducing Santerna's stake in Luchano to $6.6 million. In 2018, Santerna made another investment of $10 million in Luchano. Months later, the same auditors applied another impairment charge, further bringing down the value of Santerna's investment, to $5 million. Based on this financial activity, whereby Santerna willingly overpaid twice, the Anti-Corruption Foundation asserted that Vardanyan's company made two disguised gifts, or bribes, to the wife of the President of Tatarstan. In the aftermath of both investments, investigative journalists found millions of dollars of luxury real estate owned by Minnikhanov's family.[26] Vardanyan denied these accusations.[27]

Executive Posts[edit]

In 2004 Vardanyan was CEO in Rosgosstrakh. He also headed Troika Dialog at the same time.[5][6] As of October 2019, Vardanyan is one of the members of board of directors at Kamaz, Ameriabank and Global Blue Russia Holdings B.V. He also is a member of the investment committee Avica Property Investors International, a member of the supervisory board at Investment and Venture Fund of the Republic of Tatarstan. Vardanyan is the chairman of the editorial committee international at BRICS Business Magazine.[28] He previously had served as an expert and executive member of advisory boards at Sollers JSC, AvtoVAZ, Sibur, Novatek, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company, Sheremetyevo International Airport, Rosgosstrakh, International Finance Corporation, Standard Bank, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Russian Trading System, Moscow Stock Exchange, the Federal Commission on Securities Market, the Depository Clearing Company, the National Association of Stock Market participants etc.[19][6] He also headed the National Association of Stock Market participants during 1997 and 1998.[6] Since 2000, Vardanyan has been a member of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) where he was one of the members of executive board till 2012. In 2009 he entered the Committee on Innovative Policy and Entrepreneurship.[6] Vardanyan was one of the co-founders of the 2015 Club, an informal Russian businessmen organization, that worked on strategic planning for the Russian economy up to 2015.[29] Since 2010 Vardanyan is a member of trustees at the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund. In 2015 he co-founded the Primakov Center for International Cooperation, currently Vardanyan is a member of its advisory board.[6] In 2019, Vardanyan was invited to join the executive board of Moscow-based ACRA rating agency.[30]

Philanthropy and social entrepreneurship[edit]

Vardanyan through his philanthropic activities has been involved with Pushkin Museum council,[6] Russian National Orchestra and The American Russian Youth Orchestra.[6] He co-founded Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO and was its president from 2006 to 2011. As of 2019, Vardanyan holds is the vice-chairman at the Skolkovo advisory board.[31][32][6] Vardanyan also heads the supervisory board at Skolkovo Institute for Emerging Market Studies (SIEMS).[6] From 2000 till 2016, Vardanyan was a member of the university endowment supervisory board at Russian New Economic School, During 2008-09 he was one of the members of the advisory board.[6] He had previously held served in supervisory boards of Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (since 2014), MSU Faculty of Economics (2014-2017), international councils at Brazilian Fundação Dom Cabral' (since 2009), Japanese International Christian University (2011-2015), and GuangHua management school in China.[6]

In 2013 Ruben Vardanyan with Veronika Zonabend and partners established UWC Dilijan College. The college an international boarding school for exceptionally talented youth in Armenian city Dilijan.[33][34][35][36]

In early 2000s Ruben Vardanyan and Noubar Afeyan initiated the Armenia 2020 project.[37] Vardanyan's philanthropic organization IDea Foundation undertakes Tatev Revival Project that supports Tatev monastery restoration program. In 2010, the Dzit Han oil mill was restored and opened for visitors.[38][39][40] Among other restoration initiatives, in 2015, the Saint George's Church in Tbilisi was restored where Vardanyan was one of the financer.[41] Vardanyan was one of the project benefactors of Armenian Cathedral of Moscow consecrated in 2017.[42] In May 2017 the restored Church of Holy Mother of God was opened Moushkapat, Artsakh.[43] in 2019, the Restoration of Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque in Shusha was supported by Vardanyan's Revival of Oriental Historical Heritage Foundation.[44]

In 2016 The Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology was established jointly by Vardanyan, Noubar Afeyan, Fr. Mesrop Aramian and Artur Alaverdyan.[45] In 2014 Vardanyan also co-funded the prize money of The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity jointly with Noubar Afeyan, and Vartan Gregorian.[46][47][48]

Personal life[edit]

Vardanyan is married to Veronika Feliksovna Zonabend who is of Jewish origin.[49] Zonabend is the co-founder of the Armenian UWC Dilijan College. She also holds a post at the American University of Armenia advisory board. Zonabend is the head of the executive board at the Teach For Armenia educational foundation.[50] Vardanyan's elder sister Marine Ales is a composer and songwriter in Russian and Armenian languages, a member of the Aurora Prize Creative Council, and co-founder of "Grant Life Armenia" charity fund.[51]

In June 2021, Vardanyan acquired Armenian citizenship. [52]


In 1999, Vardanyan was recognized as the Businessman of the Year by American Chamber of Commerce in Russia. For the subsequent couple pf years he was awarded the Best business manager on Russia's capital market by Career magazine. Ernst & Young recognized Vardanyan as the Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004. National Association of Stock Market participants declared Vardanyan as the Investment banker of the year in 2004 during the Stock market elite competition. Russian GQ nominated him as the "Man of the Year" as Best Entrepreneur in the year 2010.[53][6] In 2001 the Fortune magazine included Vardanyan into its 25 Rising Stars of the New Generation. The same year, Vardanyan was included in the list of the 100 Global Leaders of Tomorrow at the World Economic Forum.[54][6]

Vardanyan was awarded the Order of St. Mesrop Mashtots by the president of the Republic of Tatarstan in 2011, the Order of Saint Gregory the Illuminator by Armenian Church in 2013, and Order of Friendship in recognition of fruitful cooperation with the Republic of Tatarstan, contribution to the development of entrepreneurship, and public service, by the president of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov in 2018. The same year, Vardanyan received Academy of International Business Presidential Award for contribution to the development of education, and, with co-founder of ‘Aurora’ humanitarian initiative Noubar Afeyan), Search for Common Ground prize to honor accomplishments in conflict resolution, negotiation, community building, and peace-building.[6]


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