Billionaire Potanin’s Divorce Proceedings Start in Moscow

Vladimir Potanin, the billionaire shareholder and chief executive officer of OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, is divorcing his wife in proceedings that started today, according to documents on a Moscow court’s website.

Potanin, 52, filed in November to end his marriage with his wife, Natalya, the documents show.

The court that is hearing the Potanins’ divorce doesn’t handle cases involving property valued at more than 50,000 rubles ($1,530), according to Russia’s judicial structure, while it does consider matters involving a minor. The billionaire and his wife have three children, the youngest of whom is under 18.

Potanin’s net worth is estimated at $14 billion by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, mostly from his 30 percent of Norilsk, Russia’s biggest mining company. His other assets include real estate company ProfEstate and ProfMedia, a media holding company, which he’s selling to Gazprom-Media.

The judge today delayed a decision on the divorce until Feb. 25, giving the couple two months to reconsider, a press official at the Presnensky district civil court said by phone, asking not to be identified in line with the court’s policy. Natalya Potanina has opposed the divorce, leading the judge to postpone a final ruling, Interfax said, citing an unidentified person with knowledge of the situation.

In February, the businessman, who gained resource assets at government auctions in the 1990s, became the first Russian magnate to sign up for the Warren Buffett and Bill Gates-led Giving Pledge initiative, promising at least half of his wealth to philanthropic causes.

Anton Muravyov, a spokesman for Potanin’s Interros, confirmed the start of the proceedings and declined to provide details.

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