Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#58 Vladimir Potanin $18.0B

Random fact: Went to school in Turkey at the Russian Trade Mission.


Potanin is the president of Norilsk Nickel, the world's second-largest nickel producer. He owns 34 percent of the Moscow-based company, which had $9.1 billion of revenue in 2017. His other investments include a ski resort in Sochi, Russia, and a controlling stake in Petrovax Pharm, a pharmaceutical company.

As of June 20, 2018:
Last change +$91.8M (+0.5%)
YTD change -$891M (-4.7%)
Industry Commodities
Biggest asset GMKN RX Equity
Citizenship Russian Federation
Age 57
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Vladimir Potanin's net worth of $18.0B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

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Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Potanin's wealth is derived from his 34 percent stake in Norilsk Nickel, a publicly traded miner. Potanin controls the stake through his Moscow-based holding company, Interros, according to the company's website. Norilsk Nickel is the world's second-largest nickel producer, according to its 2016 annual report. It accounts for almost 12 percent of the world's nickel output and 40 percent of its palladium production, according to the annual report.

Potanin has collected more than $4 billion in dividends from Norilsk Nickel as of January 2018, based on an analysis of company filings and data collected by Bloomberg. He also made more than $2 billion selling shares in company buyback programs in 2008 and 2011 and another $2 billion from selling his stake in Rosbank to Societe Generale, beginning in 2006. From 2008 to 2011, he paid about $3.8 billion to billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov to unwind the pair's business partnership, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The billionaire also controls closely held NPO Petrovax Pharm, a Russian pharmaceutical company. His real estate assets include office spaces, hotel property in Moscow, land in central Russia, and the Luzhki country club in the Moscow region.

According to RBC daily, Potanin was one of the biggest private investors who helped finance development projects for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, including the Rosa Khutor ski resort.


Birthdate: 1/3/1961
Family: Married, 5 children
Education: 1983, Moscow Foreign Relations Institute, Bachelor's Degree

Vladimir Potanin was born Jan. 3, 1961, in Moscow, to a trade diplomat and a doctor. He graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1983 and joined the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Trade, where he worked for almost eight years. Potanin formed the Interros Foreign Trade Association, a closely held foreign trade company, and became president in 1990, shortly before the Soviet Union collapsed.

He was 30 when he met future fellow billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. They formed the International Company for Finance & Investments in 1992 and also formed Onexim Bank, which became Russia's largest private bank at the time. Soon after Boris Yeltsin was reelected president in 1996, Potanin was appointed first deputy prime minister in charge of energy and economy.

In his eight months as a government employee, Potanin supervised the state property committee and is often referred to as the mastermind behind the country's so-called loans-for-shares program. In loans for shares, banks and entrepreneurs made loans to the cash-starved Russian government in exchange for liens on equity in the country's natural resource companies. The Russian government could rarely repay the loans and privatized large swaths of its assets in the process.

Potanin left his government role and returned to Onexim, where he and Prokhorov snapped up several state assets through the program. Among them: Norilsk Nickel, the world's second-largest nickel producer. Onexim bought 38 percent of the company for more than $570 million in an auction in August 1997.

The Potanin-Prokhorov partnership began to crack after Prokhorov was arrested for allegedly arranging prostitutes for guests at an Alpine resort in Courchevel, France, in 2007. Potanin suggested that Prokhorov quit Norilsk Nickel, and in 2008, Potanin agreed to buy Prokhorov's 50 percent stake in holding company KM Invest for $3.8 billion. KM Invest held stakes in Norilsk Nickel, Polyus Gold, ProfMedia, Rosbank, Soglassiye Insurance, Open Investments, Roza Khutor and other interests. At the time, the company valued assets at $11 billion.

  • 1983 Graduates from Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
  • 1991 Meets his future business partner Mikhail Prokhorov.
  • 1993 Becomes President of Onexim Bank, then Russia's largest private bank.
  • 1996 Appointed first deputy prime minister in Yeltsin's government.
  • 2007 Begins breakup of business with partner Prokhorov.
  • 2010 Said he will commit most of his wealth to charity.
  • 2012 Ends Norilsk Nickel feud with billionaire Oleg Deripaska; named CEO.
  • 2014 Sells ProfMedia to Gazprom-Media.