Suleyman Kerimov - The Investments Mogul
Suleyman Kerimov was born in 1966 in Derbent, Dagestan, in the former USSR (presently a part of Russia). He is recognized as a visionary investor, successful entrepreneur and lawmaker. He has done nvestments in metals and mining as well as in the telecom and construction industries. He has been quoted as saying: “Business is not the aim of life, it’s a game.”
Since 2008,. Kerimov represents the Republic of Dagestan in Russia’s upper house of parliament, known as the Federal Council.
Coupled with his love for his homeland, he spends his time on socially beneficial and philanthropic activities. His family is the major shareholder in Polyus Gold, which is Russia’s largest gold producer. Thanks to the sharp rise in the price of gold, his wealth is estimated to be more than $24.7 billion.
* Stats taken from Forbes.com
A Self-Made Billionaire
Suleyman Kerimov started on his journey to being one of Russia’s wealthiest investors without any notable family ties or connections. After almost two years in the Soviet military, Kerimov enrolled in Dagestan State University and graduated with a degree in Financial Accounting and Economics in 1989.
Soon after his graduation, Kerimov started working as an accountant at a local company in his home province of Dagestan, where he soon rose to the rank of deputy director and was made responsible for the company’s ties with a Moscow-based bank. In 1995, he was appointed CEO of the Soyuz-Finance trading company, where he began displaying his sophisticated style of investing. This eventually brought him his substantial wealth.
In 1999, he bought Nafta Moskva for nearly nothing when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. He used its assets as collateral to receive loans and make the company profitable. Nafta Moskva specialized in turnarounds, buyouts, PIPEs, and private equity. He then had the company make investments in blue chip companies, such as Gazprom and Sberbank. Thanks to his talents and ability to convince the banks to provide the right loans, he was able to turn the company into a monumental success story.
Kerimov’s investment strategy also made him very versatile. After losing much of his capital in the 2008 global economic crisis, he managed to return to his status as one of Russia’s richest in a few years by focusing his investments in the Russian market. In 2017, before its IPO, Kerimov made a large investment in the development of the Snapchat messaging app, which became one of the world’s ten most popular mobile applications.
Kerimov previously owned the Russian football club Anzhi Makhachkala. He acquired the relatively unknown club in 2011 to diversify his investment portfolio and enhance the football culture in Dagestan’s home province.
His investment in Anzhi Makhachkala brought it global attention, mainly because of Kerimov’s willingness to invest as much money as needed to have the club become successful in Europe. Part of his strategy was to acquire top international players, such as the Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos and the Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o. This investment in the club is one of many Kerimov has made in Russia’s sports. The Suleyman Kerimov Foundation that was set up in 2007 is a regular donor to Russian sports and athletes with grants, equipment donations, and the construction of sports facilities.
He also financed the building of a modern stadium at the Anzhi Arena, the team’s new home and the practice grounds of its youth divisions.
Suleiman Kerimov is passionate about philanthropy. In 2014, Forbes Magazine listed Kerimov as one of the three most generous Russian business magnates. He supports charitable causes in the fields of education, medical research, infrastructure, and religious initiatives.
In 2012, he realized that there were many Dagestani Muslims who were unable to make the Hajj pilgrimage because of financial constraints. He then began helping them on a regular basis.
In 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kerimov enlisted in the effort to help improve the medical and economic situation, particularly in his home region of Dagestan. He provided the funds for large amounts of food packages and financial assistance to people in need. He also bought medicine and equipment, such as X-ray machines and ventilators, for many hospitals. He also sent bonuses to health workers who have been instrumental in the fight against the pandemic.
Besides business, Kerimov also has an interest in Russian domestic politics. In 1999 he was elected as a member of the State Duma, the Russian lower house of the Federal Assembly.
Later, in 2003, he was appointed as deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee of Physical Education, Sports, and Youth. Since 2008, he represents his province of Dagestan in the Federation Council of the Federation Assembly of Russia.Besides business, Kerimov also has an interest in Russian domestic politics. In 1999, he was elected to serve as a member of the State Duma, the Russian Federal Assembly’s lower house.
Later, in 2003, he was appointed deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee of Physical Education, Sports, and Youth. Since 2008, he represents Dagestan’s province in the Federation Council of the Federation Assembly of Russia as a senator. Through his ties with the local governance, Kerimov can direct his philanthropic activities into viable projects with long-term prospects.
By Kerimov’s initiative, his hometown of Derbent will implement the basic principles of a Smart City. This includes modern housing initiatives as well as community services, the construction of a comfortable urban environment, a more efficient management system, and the planning of urban resources. He is confident that this will provide the impetus for the development of technological entrepreneurship while attracting investors, creating new jobs in high-tech, and generally involving the population in the implementation of urban initiatives.
Recognition of His Efforts
In acknowledgment of his contributions to social initiatives, Suleyman Kerimov has received several awards, including:
• The Order for Merit to the Fatherland, II Degree. This is in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development of parliamentarianism and legislation from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
• Recognition from Moscow Oblast Governor Andrei Vorobyov for his outstanding contributions made to the region. One of Kerimov’s main projects that prompted this accolade was that he backed the renovation of the Zarechenskaya secondary school.
• An award from the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) in 2013.