Alisher Burkhanovich Usmanov is a business mogul who was the richest person in Russia in 2011 with an estimated wealth of $18.1 billion USD. He acquired this wealth from several successful investments, lumber operations and mining.
Usmanov was born on 9th September 1953 in a town called Chust in Tashkent. He had planned to become a diplomat so he moved to Russia where he enrolled at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. In 1976 he graduated with a degree in international law. Unfortunately he was arrested and imprisoned in 1980 for six years on the charges of fraud. This conviction was made void in 2000 when the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan cleared his record on the grounds that he had not committed any crime and the evidence provided was false. Usmanov entered in various businesses such as buying stakes in precious metals, natural gas, iron ore and some media related firms. He co-founded ‘Metalloinvest’ which is Russia’s biggest producer of iron ore. He diversified into other industries such as telecom and timber. He also bought a 2% share in the most popular social networking site Facebook and other websites including Twitter, Groupon and Zynga.
Usmanov ventured into sports in 2007 by buying a 14.58% stake in the English soccer club Arsenal F.C. which he increased to 29% in 2008. He loves the club and said that ‘It is not something you can sell’. His metal and mining businesses include ‘Mikhalovsky GOK’, ‘Ural Steel’, ‘Moldavia Steel’, ‘Olenegorsk iron-ore’, ‘Tulachermet’, ’Lebedinski’ and ‘Oskol electro-metallurgical plants’. Combining his entire businesses puts him among Russia’s topmost steelmakers. He is also the chairman of a subsidiary of the gas company Gazprom called ‘Gazprominvest Holdings’. He owns ‘Gallagher Holdings’ which is a conglomerate having investments mainly in the steel and mining industries, oil and gas, media, IT and pharmaceuticals. From 2006 onwards he bought stakes in Australian mining companies such as Mt. Gibson, Aztec Resources and Medusa. Usmanov has the largest number of shares in ‘Nautilus Minerals’ that predicts copper and gold deposits undersea in Papua New Guinea. In 2006 Usmanov began investing heavily in media. He purchased ‘Kommersant’ for $200 million. The same year he bought 50% stake of the TV channel 7TV and 75% stake in the music channel MUZ-TV for 300 million dollars.
In 2011 Forbes magazine listed him as the richest man in Russia and the 28th richest person of the world. According to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index of December 2012, Usmanov was the 39th wealthiest person of the world with a wealth of $17.3 billion. The Sunday Times called him the richest person in the United Kingdom. Usmanov is a Muslim however he married Irina Viner, who is a jew in 1992. In 1997 he decided to further his education thus he attended the Academy of Finance where he studied banking. Usmanov loves to give out; he is on number 97 on the ‘Giving List’. He donated $120 million to charity organizations from his own money. He founded the ‘Arts and Sports Charity Foundation’ which will sponsor the FIFA World Cup Russia to be held in 2018.