Vladimir Potanin the president of Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of high-grade nickel. The Dudinka, Russia-based company reported revenue of $16.9 billion in 2022. The billionaires owns about one-third of Norilsk Nickel and his other investments include stakes in Tinkoff Bank and Rosbank.
The majority of Potanin’s wealth is derived from his stake in Norilsk Nickel, a publicly traded miner. Potanin controls his shares through Interros Limited, which holds 37% of Norilsk Nickel’s stock as of Jan. 13, 2023, according to the company’s website. Norilsk Nickel is the world’s largest producer of high-grade nickel, according to the website.
Potanin has collected more than $4 billion in dividends from Norilsk Nickel based on an analysis of company filings and data collected by Bloomberg. He also made more than $2 billion selling shares in company buyback programs in 2008 and 2011 and another $2 billion from selling his stake in Rosbank to Societe Generale, beginning in 2006. From 2008 to 2011, he paid about $4 billion to billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov to unwind the pair’s business partnership, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The billionaire also controls Rosbank. In September 2022, Potanin said he’s transferring some of his shares of Rosbank to his charitable foundation.
In April 2022, he acquired a stake in TCS Group Holding, the publicly traded company behind Tinkoff Bank, from the family of fellow-billionaire Oleg Tinkov.
According to RBC Daily, Potanin was one of the biggest private investors who helped finance development projects for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, including the Rosa Khutor ski resort.
Potanin’s investments in United Card Services processing company, as well as Reksoft software company aren’t included in the analysis because information about the cost is uncertain.
Education: Moscow State Institute of International Relations
Vladimir Potanin was born Jan. 3, 1961, in Moscow, to a trade diplomat and a doctor. He graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1983 and joined the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Trade, where he worked for almost eight years. Potanin formed the Interros Foreign Trade Association, a closely held foreign trade company, and became president in 1990, shortly before the Soviet Union collapsed.
He was 30 when he met future fellow billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. They formed the International Company for Finance & Investments in 1992 and also formed Onexim Bank, which became Russia’s largest private bank at the time. Potanin is often referred to as the mastermind behind the country’s so-called loans-for-shares program. In loans for shares, banks and entrepreneurs made loans to the cash-starved Russian government in exchange for liens on equity in the country’s natural resource companies. The Russian government could rarely repay the loans and privatized large swaths of its assets in the process.
In late 1995, Potanin and Prokhorov gained a dominant stake in Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest refined nickel and palladium producer, for just over $170 million.
Soon after Boris Yeltsin was reelected president in 1996, Potanin, who helped Yeltsin’s campaign attain a re-election victory over a Communist rival, was appointed first deputy prime minister in charge of energy and economy. He resigned in less than a year.
The Potanin-Prokhorov partnership began to crack after Prokhorov was arrested for alleged pimping at an Alpine resort in Courchevel, France, in 2007. Their joint company KM Invest held stakes in more than dozen companies including Norilsk Nickel, Polyus Gold, ProfMedia, Rosbank, Soglassiye Insurance, Open Investments and other assets. They finished the split in 2009-2010. French prosecutors dropped an investigation into allegations against Prokhorov in 2009.
- 1983 Graduates from Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
- 1991 Meets his future business partner Mikhail Prokhorov.
- 1993 Becomes President of Onexim Bank, then Russia’s largest private bank.
- 1996 Appointed first deputy prime minister in Yeltsin’s government.
- 2007 Begins breakup of business with partner Prokhorov.
- 2010 Said he will commit most of his wealth to charity.
- 2012 Ends Norilsk Nickel feud with billionaire Oleg Deripaska; named CEO.
- 2014 Sells ProfMedia to Gazprom-Media.