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Oleg Deripaska, born in 1968, is Russia’s youngest billionaire at age 35. Deripaska accumulated a business empire through a series of ruthless and elaborate, though technically legal, takeover raids.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, he was a 23-year-old student at Moscow State University. He soon got a job in the fledgling metals trading market. By 1994, he was chief financial officer of Aluminprodukt.
Through the company, he bought a stake in a Siberian smelter plant, beginning his ascent to the top of one of Russia’s roughest industries. Deripaska became the plant’s manager to protect it from a takeover by its former owner, who once threatened him with a grenade launcher.
Later, Deripaska waged his own revolt to take over the shares of the London-based Transworld Group, then owned by controversial multimillionaire Mikhail Chernoi. Fellow oligarch Roman Abramovich became Deripaska’s partner; in early 2000, the two created a joint venture called Russian Aluminum (RusAl).
Today, RusAl has $4 billion in annual sales and is the world’s second-largest aluminum producer. Deripaska owns 75 percent of the company. His other businesses include power stations, Russia’s largest car and commercial vehicle manufacturer, and the country’s largest insurance company.
Chairman of the board of directors, Basic Element Company
Ingosstrakh Insurance; aircraft builder Aviacor; the GAZ automobile company; several bus builders and paper and pulp interests.
Deripaska is married to Polina Yumashev, the daughter of former President Boris Yeltsin’s chief of staff. Deripaska’s father-in-law in turn married Yeltsin’s daughter, which makes Deripaska a grandson of Yeltsin by marriage. In the current political climate of struggles between the Kremlin and oligarchs, Russian news media speculated in July 2003 that Deripaska would be “next in line” for investigations of his business practice by the Kremlin. One of Deripaska’s deputies at Russian Aluminum, the executive in charge of contacts with state agencies, is running in the December 2003 election for the State Duma (the lower chamber of the Russian parliament) on the ticket of the center-right, ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.
In October 2003, Deripaska bought an additional 25 percent stake of Russian Aluminum for an estimated $2 billion from fellow oligarch Roman Abramovich.
For more than a year, Deripaska has flown by private jet to London every week to improve his English. Yet, unlike his fellow oligarchs, Deripaska says he has no interest in leaving Russia. In addition to his home in Moscow, Deripaska owns a country house in the wild southern region of Khakassia.