Wealth

Russian Billionaires Are Losing Billions—But They're Still Mega-Rich

Sanctions and stock pullouts are hitting the Russian billionaires where it hurts: their net worth.
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The ruble is tanking, major Western companies are pulling out of Russia, and the economic sanctions against Putin’s country are only getting worse. These are the economic effects of Russia’s Ukrainian invasion as the West and its allies attempt an economic siege to strangle Russia’s economy and force Vladimir Putin to stop his invasion. 

Multinational companies left and right are enforcing their own version of sanctions. Big tech like Apple, Microsoft, and Intel are stopping all sales in Russia. Aviation companies Boeing and Airbus have suspended all airline support. Ford, Toyota, General Motors, and Volkswagen have stopped all production and sales. H&M, Ikea, Zara, and Puma have closed up shop. Mastercard and Visa have suspended services in Russia and of all Russian-issued cards. And the harshest business move of all? The energy sector’s biggest companies—BP, Equinor, Shell, Exxon, and Total Energies—are either pulling out, exiting joint ventures, or stopping investments or funding. 

The exit of these big businesses will surely be felt by the regular civilians of the Russian Federation—the ones who rely on the basic services and consumer goods sold by the West. But the billionaires? That’s another story altogether. 

The U.K. was the first country to namedrop the Russian billionaires that would be sanctioned as part of its anti-war effort for Ukraine, with other countries quickly following suit. Many of those who were named are billionaires whose wealth remains private, such as Aleksandr Bortnikov, the director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, and Petr Fradkov, the chairman and CEO of Promsvyazbank Public Joint Stock Company. The extent of their riches remains under cloak and dagger, no matter how many of these oligarchs’ yachts are seized by foreign countries. But that leaves the Russian billionaires who run listed companies and whose wealth is easy enough to determine based on stock prices. And based on that data, Russian billionaires are losing billions thanks to these global sanctions and business exits. 

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Infographic: Russian Billionaires’ Wealth Crunch | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

Based on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index information on 25 listed Russian billionaires, the federation’s richest men lost a combined $88 billion from February 23 to March 3. Russia’s richest man, Vladimir Potanin lost $1 billion in just one day, and stocks of his listed Norilsk Nickel Mining company are tanking. From $22.93 on February 23, they are now worth $3.02 apiece.

Lukoil president Vagit Alekperov was the unluckiest among Russia’s listed billionaires after losing 60 percent of his fortune and exiting the Bloomberg rich list altogether along with four other Russian billionaires. 

Also affected were steel tycoon Alexey Mordashov, gas and petrochemical billionaire Gennady Timchenko, Ukrainian-born banking tycoon Mikhail Fridman, and the high profile owner of Chelsea F.C. Roman Abramovich. 

Despite their losses, their fortunes are not completely wiped out. The “poorest” Russian billionaire on the Bloomberg list is still worth a hefty $5 billion, and that’s not even counting the unlisted and mysterious net worths of Russia’s secretive kleptocracy.

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Russia’s richest can make up for their losses by selling stakes before markets get worse. Even then, the oligarchs can live comfortably on a couple billion each. And, as always, it will be the rest of the nation’s civilians that will struggle with the harsh sanctions imposed on Russia. 

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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