Rosneft deal makes Viktor Vekselberg Russia’s richest man

He may not be the most famous businessman in Russia, but Viktor Vekselberg is now the richest.

That is the status the natural resources investor has been accorded by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, following AAR’s sale of its 50% stake in TNK-BP to Rosneft for $28bn (£17.5bn) on Monday.

Vekselberg is one of five Russian oligarchs who controls the AAR consortium – alongside Mikhail Fridman, Leonard Blavatnik, German Khan and Alexey Kuzmichev – and his latest deal means he is now worth $18bn. That puts him more than $700m ahead of metals and technology investor Alisher Usmanov, the Arsenal investor who had previously topped the list.

The deal also added $1.2bn to Fridman’s fortune, moving him past Russian billionaires Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, and steel and mining billionaire Alexey Mordashov, according to Bloomberg, and making Fridman the country’s fifth-richest person.

Meanwhile, Blavatnik saw his fortune rise $1.5bn to $15.4bn, ahead of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and Nike chairman Philip Knight, while Khan is worth $10.3bn and Kuzmichev $8bn, according to the index.

The revisions to the rich list occurred after the Kremlin-controlled oil group Rosneft said on Monday it would buy the whole of TNK-BP from AAR and BP for $55bn. As AAR sells its 50% TNK-BP holding to Rosneft, simultaneously the British-based oil company is also offloading its 50% stake in the joint venture for cash and shares in Rosneft valued at about $27bn.

The sale of TNK-BP has come after years of disputes between BP and AAR which has seen the pair battling each other in the courts, as well as AAR blocking dividends from the joint venture as well as the Russian oligarchs scuppering BP’s hopes of an earlier tie-up with Rosneft in the Arctic.

While Vekselberg’s fortune is on the rise, his ascent to the summit of his country’s rich list was also was aided by woes for Usmanov. His fortune has dropped on the index by more than $1bn in the past week as MegaFon, Russia’s second- largest mobile-phone company in which Usmanov is a key shareholder, postponed its London flotation.

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