October 2013



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Alexander Nesis

Radiochemist knows how to make money from U3O8, K2CO3 and Au
$3bn | 50 | Divorced | 2 Children | Russia | ↑

Leningrad native and trained radiochemist kickstarted his shipbuilding and industrial investment business ICT with money from uranium mining in the Uzbek desert.

Founded Polymetal in the late 1990s, sold out to Suleiman Kerimov in 2005, only to buy most of it back on the cheap during the 2008 financial crisis. Still owns 19% of the well-run and relatively more transparent gold miner.

Like his billionaire Russian buddies Kerimov, Filaret Galchev, Alexander Nesis, Zelimkhan Mutsoev and Anatoly Skurov, Nesis hit the jackpot with the blockbuster merger of Uralkali and Silvinit in 2011. Today owns 10% of the combined group which has profit margins that would make Canada’s Potashcorp blush.

Prospects: Good – Uralkali’s long-term prospects are rock-solid, stands to make dough if and when the merger with Prokhorov’s Polyus goes ahead and this month inked a deal on a $1bn rare earth project

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Henry Sapiecha

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Patrice Motsepe

Lawyer who empowered himself and workers
$3bn | 51 | Married | 3 Children | South Africa | ↑ ↓

Born in Soweto, he got his business chops working in his father “spaza” shop or general dealer selling to the township’s many mineworkers.

Became a partner at top Johannesburg law firm before moving into mining services. Built up his African Rainbow Minerals with his sister, Bridgette starting in 1994 after the fall of Apartheid by buying up marginal assets under black empowerment program that mandates 26% black ownership of mines.

Pioneered concept of profit-sharing with ordinary miner workers at ARM which has interests in platinum, nickel, chrome, iron ore, manganese, coal, copper and gold and a partnership with Harmony Gold which he chairs.

Unlike many of South Africa’s black business elite, he steers clear of politics and this year joined the pledge to give away half his fortune to charity. Owns Mamelodi Sundowns, top South Africa soccer club

Prospects: Up and down – weathered the terrible year 2012 was for mining in South Africa well and expansion further north should start paying off

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Henry Sapiecha

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Gautam Adani

Powerless to stop the slide in his fortune
$3bn | 50 | Married | 2 Children | India | ↓

Born into a merchant family, he started his path to riches as a young man sorting and trading diamonds in Mumbai after dropping out of college. Had a narrow escape in 2008 when terrorists attacked the Taj hotel in Mumbai where he was staying.

Was implicated in the illegal mining scandals in the state of Karnataka that led to a ban and appears to have fallen out of favour with Indian authorities who cut the ports business run by son Karan from state tenders.

From headquarters in Ahmedabad in Gujarat, he oversees the $7bn Adani Enterprises’s coal mines in Australia and Indonesia that feed the power generation business in India. Adani Power is struggling with debt and rising costs so he’s putting his Australian ports up for sale. Adani Mining may still IPO in London

Losing two-thirds of his wealth in two years didn’t stop him from throwing Karan and his bride Paridhi Shroff and 8,000 guests one of India’s biggest ever wedding parties (and that takes some doing) in February.

Prospects: Downhill – India’s long-term electrification ambitions are undimmed but Coalgate will hurt future deals

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Henry Sapiecha

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Vasily Anisimov

The on again off again oligarch
$3bn | 61 | Married | 4 Children | Russia | ↑

Ran supplies for a nuclear plant outside Moscow, had dealings with Marc Rich, disgraced founder of what is today Glencore, before setting up Coalco to buy stakes in mines and aluminum refineries including the second largest in the world Krasnoyarsk with purported local godfather Anatoly ‘The Bull’ Bykov.

Entirely sold out of Russian businesses and disappeared from the scene around 2000 to find solace in the Russian Orthodox faith after his daughter from a previous marriage and her husband were murdered.

In 2004 made a comeback as co-owner of Metalloinvest with Alisher Usmanov and Andrei Skoch, but sold his stake after Boris Berezovsky (since deceased) sued – ultimately unsuccessfully – for $2bn.

Keeps a low profile and unlike his fellow Russian billionaires prefers New York over London when not in Moscow. Daughter Anna is a well-known Manhattan socialite and property owner. An ex-model, she’s sometimes referred to as Russia’s Paris Hilton.

Prospects: Probably good – appears to have a handle on the wheels within wheels at the top of the Russian oligarchy

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Henry Sapiecha

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Glencore International

The Baar billionaires boys club
$2-3bn | 45-51 | Greece, Spain, US and UK | ↑

Glencore’s $10bn IPO, the biggest of 2011, minted four employee billionaires and also made billions for early US investor William Macaulay and Kazakhstan’s Bulat Utemuratov whose sale of zinc and gold mining co’s to the Swiss firm wrapped up October last year.

Spaniard Daniel Mate ($2.7bn) joined the Swiss-based trading and commodities behemoth in 1988 when controversial founder and fugitive pardoned by US president Bill Clinton before leaving office, Marc Rich, was still at the helm. Mate and Greek citizen Aristotelis Mistakidis ($2.7 billion) worked their way up from the commodity giant’s zinc, copper and lead trading department.

Oxford-grad biochemist Alex Beard ($2.1bn) heads up oil and American Tor Peterson ($2.3bn), a political science and French graduate from Duke University and only single man on the list replaced CEO Ivan Glasenberg at the top of the coal division in 2002.

Prospects: Good – the tie-up with Xstrata cleared the final hurdle in April and deal-hungry Glasenberg probably won’t stop raking in new assets

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Henry Sapiecha

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Chen Fashu

Fashu’s is a foundation after a fashion
$2-3bn | 52 | 4 Children | China | ↑ ↓

Chairman of the New Huadu Group, Chen runs some of China’s largest retail centres, the Tsingtao brewery and is locked in a court and boardroom battle to acquire a stake in state-owned Yunnan Baiyao Group, one of the country’s biggest pharmaceutical companies.

If the potentially highly lucrative pharma deal goes through, Chen may make good on his pledge to sell out of Zijin Mining Group, China’s number one gold and second largest copper miner, and donate the proceeds to his charitable foundation which was found to be little more than a shell.

Fujian-based Zijin picked up 90% of Australia’s Norton Gold Fields last year and is forging ahead with more buys outside China despite the gold price decline. Zijin shares in Hong Kong are down 26% in a year, but the company’s aggressive growth strategy remains on track and its domestic mines have some of the best margins in the world.

Prospects: Fair – his sale of a chunk of Tsingtao may indicate bigger problems in the group, but Zijin’s longer-term prospects remain bright

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Henry Sapiecha

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37…Base Metals

Vladimir Kim

Pledging shares after pledging to step aside
$2-3bn | 52 | Married | 3 Children | Kazakhstan | ↓

Of Korean descent he graduated from Almaty’s Architectural Institute in 1982 and became involved with Kazakhmys (then called ZhezkazganTsvetMet) during the 1990s when the Soviet era coal miner and power company was in complete disarray.

Made headlines in October 2010 when in one go, he sold $1.3 billion worth of stock to Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund.

Will be stepping down as chairman of Kazakhmys which he listed in London in 2005, later this year, but is holding onto his 28% stake.

Kazakhmys shares have been decimated over the last year after a writedown of $2bn in the value of its 26% stake in fellow Kazahk miner ENRC.

Prospects: Not good – speculation is rife about reasons Kim is pledging more and more of his shares as loan collateral and the ENRC contagion is spreading

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Henry Sapiecha

gold dollar sign line


38…Base Metals

Eurasian Natural Resources

Unlikely threesome brought together by mining moollah
$2-3bn | 59-60 | Kazakhstan, Israel, Belgium | ↑

Responsible for bringing Kazakhstan’s vast copper resources out from under the Soviets to the world, more specifically the FTSE.

Patok Chodiev built Eurasian Natural Resources with longtime pals Alexander Machkevich (pictured) and Alijan Ibragimov into a diversified miner which at its peak was worth more than $20 billion, but is now being abandoned by shareholders and its board.

Tends to get Involved in mining’s frontier markets including buying First Quantum Minerals’ assets in the DRC for a fraction of its value after what has been described as a strip and flip transaction facilitated by Israeli middleman Dan Gertler. After a court battle ENRC had to compensate the Canadian firm $1.25bn (still a bargain for ENRC) and in December 2012 bought the remainder of Gertler’s Camrose Resources for $550m.

While Chodiev runs his empire from Almaty, Kazakhstan, he was born in Uzbekistan, spent a lot of time in Japan and is a Belgian citizen. Ibragimov is a native of Kyrgyzstan and a devout Muslim with 6 sons. Machkevich is an Israeli citizen and a tireless promoter of the Jewish state and causes.

Prospects: Fair – corporate governance issues should see ENRC taken private again by the three founders, where deals can be done with less scrutiny

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Henry Sapiecha

gold dollar sign line


39…Base Metals

Dan Gertler

Frontier financier with unorthodox business style
$2bn | 39 | Israel | Married | 9 Children | ↑

Learnt the trade from grandfather Moshe Schnitzer, Israeli diamond exchange founder. Arrived in the Congo in 1997 shortly after the coup through links with Chabad orthodox community.

Became close to DRC president Joseph Kabila and the late Augustin Katumba to bag mining projects using what his detractors call strip and flip tactics which once prompted the IMF to stop DRC’s aid over lack of transparency.

Biggest clients are Glencore and London-listed ENRC, which picked up Kolwezi, a flagship copper complex Gertler wrestled from Canada’s First Quantum. ENRC is now buying out one of Gertler’s many tax-haven based front companies Camrose for $550m.

Owns 63% stake in Africo Resources listed in Toronto, partners with state-owned Gecamines in various copper-cobalt, gold and iron projects and has a monopoly on the DRC diamond trade. Has also teamed up with South African presidential hopeful Tokyo Sexwale and New York hedge fund Och-Ziff.

Kabila has on occasion dispatched him as special peace envoy and Gertler answers his critics by saying he’s attracted $7bn worth of much-needed investment to the war-torn country and deserves the Nobel Prize.

Prospects: Fair – able to shrug off greater scrutiny of his businesses despite new conflict minerals rules and African copper has many good years ahead of it

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Henry Sapiecha

gold dollar sign line



Viktor Nusenkis

Found religion and coking coal billions
$2bn | 59 | Married | 2 Children | Ukraine | ↑ ↓

Flouting Moscow’s rules, he quickly became Ukraine’s number one private coal trader before the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Worked under the protection of Ukraine’s attorney general Gennady Vasilyev before founding Energo Concern (Donetskstal) in 1993. Vasilyev is suing Nusenkis for half of Energo in a Cyprus court after local tribunals brought him no luck.

Empire includes thermal and coking coal mines and metallurgical plants in Ukraine, Russia, Czech Republic and Germany and he has moved into agriculture through a Latvian firm.

Nowadays sporting a bushy beard, he is a generous patron of the Russian orthodox church in Russia and Ukraine. All group offices sport temples or prayer rooms. Shares a Zosima elder as spiritual adviser with Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych.

Prospects: May need a miracle – Energo’s ageing plants suffer from years of underinvestment and favourable state loans to the group may be drying up

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Henry Sapiecha

gold dollar sign line









Ivan Glasenberg

When creating a $200bn commodities giant is only the beginning
$7bn | 56 | Married | 2 Children | South Africa | ↑

Glencore CEO triumphed in one of mining’s longest and richest takeover battles and took the top job at the combined group from his Xstrata counterpart in the process.

A workaholic and voracious dealmaker Glasenberg will be the number two shareholder in Glencore-Xstrata after the Qatari sovereign wealth fund which he coaxed over to his side when the deal was on the brink of collapse.

Glasenberg, alumna of Wits University in Johannesburg, cut his teeth in his native South Africa’s coal industry in the 1980s and once represented the country in race-walking before moving to Australia.

Now living in Ruschlikon, Switzerland, his mailbox was bombed while he was hobnobbing with the wealthy and powerful in Davos in January and the media have now set their sights squarely on the obsessively private Glasenberg and his dealings around the world.

Prospects: Good – a vertically integrated Glencore-Xstrata will entrench its dominance in certain metals markets and Glasenberg will keep the mega-deals rolling in

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Henry Sapiecha

gold dollar sign line


22…Precious Metals / Diamonds

Beny Steinmetz

Inherits diamond business; moves into strip and flip
$6-$7bn | 57 | Married | 4 Children | Israel | ↓

Born in Israel, Steinmetz moved to Antwerp as a young man to run the diamond trading business he inherited from his father Rubin.

Steinmetz Diamond Group, now based in Geneva Switzerland, tied up Angolan supply under De Beers’ nose and more recently diversified into oil, real estate and mining other than diamonds under the BSG Resources banner.

Estimates of his wealth vary wildly but more about his business dealing may be revealed in an ugly battle over the Simandou iron project in Guinea, half of which Steinmetz acquired for a fraction of its value under less than transparent circumstances days before the death of dictator Lansana Conté who had stripped it from Rio Tinto earlier.

The alleged strip & flip worked wonders for Steinmetz when in 2010 Vale bought half of his share for $2.5bn. After forking out the first $500m the Brazilian firm has now stopped making payments after dropping the project altogether. Also involved with fellow Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler in mining deals in the DRC.

Prospects: Not good – his Sierra Leone diamond mine was hit by deadly clashes in December and a corruption probe of Simandou may still catch up with him

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Henry Sapiecha

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Suleiman Kerimov

Financial wizard who likes to push it to the limit
$6-7bn | 47 | Married | 3 Children | Russia | ↑

High stakes dealmaker who managed to claw back losses in the 2008 banking collapse – he went from $17bn to $3bn thanks to ill-timed investment in JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs – by moving into potash and precious metals.

The main driving force behind the $8bn takeover by Uralkali of Silvinit to form the globe’s largest – and by far most profitable – potash miner in 2010. Sold a $3bn stake to China last year.

A math genius long suspected of being the front man for secret Kremlin investments, he built up a huge stake in Polymetal before listing the gold and silver miner in London. Followed it by buying 37% of Polyus Gold, Russia’s largest gold company.

Known for $10m parties where pop stars like Beyoncé provide entertainment, he nearly died from burns sustained after crashing his Ferrari on Nice’s streets.

Born in Russian backwater Dagestan near the border with Chechnya, he’s spent more than $300m on star players and a stadium to boost the local team Anzhi Makhachkala.

Prospects: Great – plans to merge Polymetal and Polyus has fallen through, but for well-connected Kerimov the next deal is never far away.

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Henry Sapiecha

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24…Precious Metals / Diamonds

Nicky Oppenheimer & Family

Almost flawless exit from a sparkling family business
$6-7bn | 67 | Married | 1 Child | South Africa | ↑

In March 2012, diamonds and the Oppenheimer family, one of mining’s most storied relationships, officially came to an end.

Sold his family’s remaining 40% in De Beers which for most of its existence prospered by keeping an iron grip on the global rough diamond market for $5.1bn to another Oppenheimer creation Anglo-American, which Nicky’s grandfather Ernest co-founded with US financier JP Morgan in 1917.

In the late 1990s De Beers stopped stockpiling rough diamond supply and moved into retail and jewellery manufacturing and shortly after the Oppenheimers took the company private after a century-long listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Holds a masters from Oxford, lives in Johannesburg within earshot of the AngloGold lion enclosure at the city zoo when he is not enjoying his Tswalu Kalahari game reserve, the largest of its kind in private hands.

Prospects: Good – Oppenheimer negotiated a great price for De Beers at a time when Rio and BHP were struggling to find buyers for their gem divisions


Henry Sapiecha

gold dollar sign line


25…Iron Ore & Steel

Andrew Forrest

Iron ore king rode the Chinese wave better than most
$5-6bn | 51 | Married | 3 Children | Australia | ↑ ↓

Twiggy (his nickname in school) was finally exonerated in October last year from charges he misled investors about his Fortescue Metals Group’s deals with China. He remains chairman, but the allegations cost him the CEO job.

Once a keen amateur boxer, he grew up on a farm in Pilbara, Australia’s iron ore heartland, and after working as a stock broker he founded Anaconda Nickel in 1994. His fortune is all tied up in FMG which he built up from nothing in 2003 to a 150mtpa outfit today on the back of the China-led boom.

Perth-based Forrest once called Australia’s mining taxes “evil” and this year joined Gina Rinehart in a political coalition to populate Australia’s north and exploit the vast resources on Asia’s doorstep. Tireless promotor of Aboriginal rights he’s promised to give away half his fortune

Prospects: Fair – debt-laden FMG looked wobbly when iron fell to 3-year lows in September 2012, but production plans are back on schedule and budget

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Henry Sapiecha

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26..Base Metals

Dennis Washington

Sailing fanatic built his fortune the old-fashioned way
$5bn | 78 | Married | 2 Children | United States| ↑

Born in Spokane Washington, after an unhappy childhood in a broken home that included a bout with polio, he eventually settled down with his grandparents in Montana, the state he still calls home.

Got the start for Washington Co. construction from a $30,000 loan from a Caterpillar dealer and moved into mining with a copper and molybdenum mine in Butte, Montana, which he acquired in 1986 and shortly thereafter re-opened.

In contrast to the wild swings in many other billionaires’ fortunes Washington’s net worth has been steadily climbing and even the financial crisis of 2008 barely registered on his income statement.

A keen yacht-designer and sailor his Attessa IV is now worth more than $200m after a meticulous 40-month rebuild. Washington owns an island off the British Columbia coast.

Prospects: Good – his Butte mine, rail, heavy equipment and shipping companies are all chugging along nicely

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Henry Sapiecha

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27…Iron Ore & Steel

Alexander Abramov

Space researcher made the most of the rouble crisis
$4-5bn | 54 | Married | 3 Children | Russia | ↓

Most of the low-profile Moscovite’s money is held in Evraz plc, which he, Roman Abramovich and Alexander Frolov successfully listed in London in 2011, but which has taken a beating ever since.

Abramov, whose wealth peaked at $11.5 billion in 2008, wasn’t always a businessman; he started work at a Soviet defence and space research lab after graduating from the Moscow Institute of Physics before starting an Evraz-precursor in the Yeltsin era.

During the 1998 Russian financial crisis, bought up distressed steelmakers and coal assets at fire sale prices. Today Evraz holds vast greenfields projects in Siberia, operates iron and coal mines across Russia and Ukraine, including the region’s largest met coal producer Yuzhkuzbassugol and has extensive vanadium interests in South Africa and the US.

Prospects: Middling – his Evraz’s struggles are set to continue and like partner Abramovich he has to work hard keeping the Kremlin on side

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Henry Sapiecha

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28…Iron Ore & Steel

Victor Rashnikov

Silver fox keeps iron grip on his beloved home town steel mill
$4bn | 64 | Married | 2 Children | Russia | ↓

Product of Magnitogorsk’s Mining and Metallurgical Institute, he still resides in the city 1,800 kilometres east of Moscow, shunning fellow Russian oligarchs and their London mansions and Monaco yachts.

Ultimate small town boy made good, he started at Magnitogorskiy Metallurgicheskiy Kombinat, Russia largest steel mill, as a machine minder, worked his way up and then followed the familiar playbook of buying up workers and the state’s shares at basement prices.

An ice hockey fan who made the local team Metallurg, Russia finest, his big pay day came in 2007 when he took MMK public in London pocketing $1bn. Still owns bulk of MMK after fighting off a takeover by fellow metals man Iskander Makhmudov by buying stock on the open market and investing heavily in Twiggy’s FMG.

He’s been ploughing back the money building hospitals, a cathedral and ski resorts and staging the country’s biggest fireworks show in Magnitogorsk every July 18, the old Soviet Day of the Metallurgist.

Prospects: Dicey – fortune is entirely tied to MMK, down 80% since 2011 but could go lower still.

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Henry Sapiecha

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Andrei Guriev

More green from a growing phosphate fortune
$4bn | 53 | Married | 2 Children | Russia | ↑

Bank balance is based on his stake put at anywhere from 50% to 70% in Phosagro the globe’s number two phosphate producer which he listed in London in 2011.

A former communist leader, he’s been senator representing Murmansk since 2001 and could have been higher on the list, but plans to merge Fosagro with Silvnit, fell through and the latter was scooped up by Uralkali adding billions to the fortunes of Russia’s already rich potash potentates.

Cut his teeth working form Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and when the Yukos billionaire was sent to prison after falling out with the Putin government, Guriev led a management buyout of one of the group’s divisions Apatit which is now part of Phosagro.

Prospects: Good – raised $500m in secondary offer in London in April and the fertilizer market remains strong

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Henry Sapiecha

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Anil Agarwal

Oil helps to lubricate rough iron ore and aluminum business
$3-4bn | 59 | Married | 2 Children | India | ↑ ↓

Stock of his London-listed Vedanta Resources has held up better than most miners thanks to new finds by its Indian oil division run by brother Navin.

Quit school at age 15 and started out as a scrap metal trader in Mumbai in 1976. Today Vedanta boasts $14bn in annual revenues with assets that span the globe including copper in Zambia and Australia, zinc in Namibia and Ireland, and top iron ore company Sesa Goa and Hindustan Zinc in India.

Was affected by iron mining ban in Goa and had to shut aluminum refineries as plans to extract bauxite from what the local animist tribe says is the sacred mountain of Niyamgiri in the impoverished state of Orissa, are blocked.

Keen cyclist and vegetarian Agarwal who lives in London is a devotee of the Hindu god Krishna. Plans for a $1bn Vedanta University in Orissa went nowhere.

Prospect: Goodish – runs a tight ship and iron ore business improving while oil business should offset aluminum problems in India

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Henry Sapiecha

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antonio-de-morais brazil miner image


Antonio Ermirio de Moraes & Family

Octogenarian still firmly in charge of 95-year old family business
$13bn | 84 | Married | 9 Children | Brazil | ↑

Heads up São Paulo’s Votorantim Group, a 100% family-owned company founded just after the WW1 as a textile factory.

He’s a product of the Colorado School of Mines, just like his father. Once ran for state governor, is an accomplished playwright and has a weekly newspaper column.

The 84-year old chairman of the board does not appoint relatives to executive positions in the conglomerate’s sprawling operations which cover cement, pulp, steel, energy, base metals particularly nickel and zinc where it is no. 5 producer globally and a few gold and silver projects.

Active in 25 countries around the world employing 100,000 workers, 2012 revenues for the group grew 5% to $24.8bn.

Prospects: Good – Votorantim is investing $3bn this year to expand and Brazil’s building boom is boosting the cement business.

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Henry Sapiecha

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Andrey Melnichenko

Fertilizer IPO could come up roses for baby on the billionaire list
$13bn | 41 | Married | 1 Child | Russia | ↑

The youngest of Russia billionaire’s boys club, he made his first billion at the tender age of 32. Co-founded MDM Bank with Sergei Popov in 1993 and the pair then moved into coal, fertilizer and pipes.

After a split of assets Melnichenko kept 80% of Russia’s no.1 coal firm SUEK (Siberian Coal Energy Company) and fertilizer-maker Eurochem. Already the phosphate and nitrogen leader, Eurochem, is spending $5bn on two potash mines in Russia that could start producing this year.

Like his fellow Russians, Melnichenko has a soft spot for mega-yachts, but unlike pal Abramovich he did not go for the biggest just the most unique. Designed by minimalist Philippe Starck, the $300m, 394-foot yacht is named “A” after his wife Aleksandra, a Serbian model.


Henry Sapiecha

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Roman Abramovich

Privatization king, Chelski owner, art lover and yacht fetishist
$12bn | 46 | Married | 6 Children | Russia | ↓

A close associate of Putin, he enjoys a high-profile as owner of Chelsea football club in London where he and art maven girlfriend Dasha Zhukova spend most of their time.

Somehow got chunks of Aeroflot and oil firm Sibneft after the fall of the Soviet Union. In August won a $6bn lawsuit over Sibneft payment filed by erstwhile mentor Boris Berezovsky (found hanged in March). Abramovich’s defence? He paid Berezovsky krusha or protection money to the tune of $2bn.

Scored $10bn selling out of Sibneft and Rusal, and today Abramovich owns big stakes in steel and iron ore giant Evraz, Highland Gold and Kinross.

Owns the world’s largest yacht, the 533-foot Eclipse, a 377-foot expedition boat named Luna, a Boeing 767 called The Bandit, mansions all over and 40 works from overpriced Russian artist Ilya Kabakov.

Prospects: Trouble ahead – rumour of his arrest saw Evraz plummet and staying in good books of Russia’s political rulers is a tricky business


Henry Sapiecha

gold dollar sign line


14…Iron Ore & Steel

Alexei Mordashov

Overachiever turning steel into gold
$11-12bn | 47 | Married | 6 Children | Russia | ↓

As boss and 79%-shareholder of Severstal, Mordashov has expanded the footprint of Russian’s second largest steelmaker globally including into the US, but he hasn’t been able to halt the slide in the stock, which burnt a $2bn hole in his cash pile just this year.

Nordgold was listed in February after being spun out of Severstal, which Mordashov controls through a trust based out of Cyprus, and already produces more than 560,000 ounces a year with planned expansion in Africa, Russia and the region.

The son of a mill worker Mordashov became CEO of Severstal when he was only 27 and took the top post four years later. He was rebuffed in 2006 by Lakshmi Mittal to combine with Arcelor.

Prospects: Not great – post-Nordgold there’s little value left to unlock in Severstal and his holdings in grocery chains, media and banking are too small to offset losses elsewhere


Henry Sapiecha

gold dollar sign line



Eike Batista

A Batista bear market with bite
$10bn | 56 | Divorced| 2 Children | Brazil | ↓

Born into mining as son of a CEO of iron giant Vale, the young Eike led the playboy lifestyle, dropping out of engineering school, marrying a nude model and becoming a speedboat world champion.

Started out with small-scale gold mining in the Amazon before graduating to the big leagues with gold, iron ore, oil & gas, shipping, energy, construction and sports promotion companies.

Ever the consummate salesman, Batista famously sold Minas Rio to Anglo-American in 2008, pocketing $5.5bn and getting rid of what has become Anglo’s biggest asset write-off on record.

His fortune topped out at a spectacular $32.8bn in April last year after his OGX struck oil (turns out not very much) off the Brazilian coast giving credence to his stated goal of becoming the richest person in the world.

But these days his divestiture strategy – including an offload to Abu Dhabi and new lines of credit from billionaire buddy Andre Esteves – has more than a whiff of a fire sale as his five public firms run out of capex funds and creditors start making collateral calls.

Son Thor is up on manslaughter charges after running over a cyclist in his Mclaren sportscar.

Prospects: Bad – his businesses are caught in a vicious downward spiral and his silver tongue is worth nothing now that the wells have run dry


Henry Sapiecha

gold dollar sign line



Dmitry Rybolovlev

Potash potentate with penchant for property
$9bn | 46 | Separated | 2 Children | Russia | ↓

Worked for father’s medical device firm in 1990s before setting up an investment firm, Perm, in time for the great Yeltsin industrial asset sale bonanza.

Had a rough patch in 1996, spending almost a year in Russia’s toughest prison awaiting trial after being accused of a plot to kill a business partner.

Enjoyed giant pay-day in 2010 selling part of his controlling stake in Uralkali for $6.5bn and since then has been splashing out on property around the world.

The Donald Trump Palm Beach mansion, Maison de L’Amitie, he picked up for $95m in 2008 is now the centre of a divorce fight with wife Elena. Set the bar for New York with $88m for a Manhattan apartment for his daughter Ekaterina bought from former Citi chairman Sandy Weill and paired his $300m Belle Époque penthouse in Monaco, with the local soccer team.

Prospects: Middling – burnt his fingers as biggest Russian investor in Cyprus banking, but potash dividends should continue to flow


Henry Sapiecha

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iskanderl-makhmudov image

17…Base Metals

Iskander Makhmudov

Gave up promising diplomatic career for billions
$8-9bn | 49 | Married | 1 Child | Uzbek | ↑

Wealth stems from majority-owned Ural Mining and Metallurgical Co, one of Russia’s biggest copper producers with iron ore, construction and agriculture businesses thrown into the mix.

The company’s roots go back hundreds of years and the original Ural deposit in the late 1800s supplied 25% of the world’s copper.

The Bukhara-born Uzbek is fluent in English and Arabic. After leaving Tashkent University where he read Oriental studies worked for the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Libya and Iraq before becoming a metal’s trader.

Makmudov and fellow oligarch Oleg Deripaska have been the subject of a money laundering investigation by Spanish authorities which died a quiet death after being handed over to Russian Attorney General’s Office.

Prospects: Good – new flagship Safyanovskoye mine is close to production and Makhmudov is reportedly involved in Prokhorov’s Intergeo float


Henry Sapiecha

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Oleg Deripaska

Back from the brink to rescue Rusal once again
$8bn | 45 | Married | 2 Children | Russia | ↓

Moscow has been a rich hunting ground and the aluminum baron only ranks 16th on Russia’s rich list, but he’s down $20bn in five years.

Settled dispute with erstwhile business partner Vladimir Potanin over Norilsk Nickel in 2012 after Roman Abramovich was convinced to take up 6% in the nickel and palladium giant.

Deripaska wanted to merge Rusal and Norilsk to get rid of some of the aluminum company’s crippling $20bn in debt, but he’s now running out of options and lifelines to keep the wellspring of his fortune afloat having tapped the Putin government for assistance once before.

Has become more outspoken recently (while making sure never to upset the Kremlin), blasting the Russian banking system and lumbering state enterprises like Gazprom and even coming out in support of jailed punk rockers Pussy Riot.

Prospects: Bad – Rusal is still teetering and criticizing Russia’s powers that be is a risky strategy


Henry Sapiecha

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19…Iron Ore & Steel

Savitri Jindal & Family

Mother and sons brace for another tough Indian summer
$7-8bn| 63 | Widow | 9 Children | India | ↓

Savitri became chairperson after her husband and empire founder, O.P. Jindal, died in a helicopter crash in 2005.

Matriarch lives in Hisar north of Delhi and son Sajjan runs JSW Steel from Mumbai while youngest Naveen, University of Texas in Dallas graduate (where he has a management school named after him), is responsible for the family’s energy business.

The Jindal dynasty has been in decline after hitting $13bn in 2011, as India’s steel industry suffers from supply constraints thanks to iron ore mining bans and greater government involvement in the industry.

An environmental and corruption crackdown on India’s mining sector has also snared Jindal Power, which has been accused of being allocated coal blocks at a discount through secretive deals with officials, sending its shares plummeting.

Prospects: Not great – India’s steel and iron ore industry is in a mess and coal power doesn’t have great future, even in India


Henry Sapiecha

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20…Iron Ore & Steel

Andrei Skoch

Russia’s richest parliamentarian pops up in all sorts of deals
$8bn | 47 | Married | 8 Children | Russia | ↑

Skoch jumps more than 10 places on the list adding $3.7bn courtesy of close friend Alisher Usmanov.

Skoch worked for Usmanov at Lebedinsky Mining and after Usmanov welded together all his mining assets to form Metalloinvest in 2006, Skoch ended up with 30% of the group. Usmanov raised $2bn in November by taking his Megafon public and Skoch now also holds a substantial stake in the cellphone giant’s holding company.

Crossed the billionaire mark barely into his 40s and he’s never been able to shake charges of ties to Russia’s largest criminal gang Solntsevo – he was arrested attending the birthday party of the boss of the organization Viktor Averin in the Ritz hotel Prague in 1995.

Skoch’s assets are held in the name of his father Vladimir, because of Russian parliamentary rules (he’s been in the Duma since 1999). The father of quintuplets and a graduate of Moscow’s Institute of Physical Culture and Sports he sponsors an annual literary prize called Debut.

Prospects: Probably good – as long as he stays close to Usmanov the deals should keep flowing

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Henry Sapiecha

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1…Precious Metals / Diamonds

Alberto Bailleres Gonzalez

Born with the ultimate silver spoon in his mouth
$21bn+ | 81 | Married | 4 Children | Mexico | ↑

The Bailleres Gonzalez fortune grew $1.7 billion over the last year and the family shoots up five spots in the ranking.

The bump wasn’t from Gonzalez’s primary asset – world no. 1 silver miner Fresnillo – which had a lacklustre 2012, but from growth in his insurance, department store and bottling companies.

Gonzalez’s wealth is not as tied up as others on the list and he’s received dividends over the last decade of at least $2 billion to indulge his favourite pastimes of bullfighting and horseracing.

Despite his advanced age he is still actively involved with ITAM, the private university whose main benefactor was his father Raul.

Prospects: Good – Mexico is benefitting from a stronger US and family control over the group is firmly established

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Henry Sapiecha

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2…Iron Ore & Steel

Alisher Usmanov

Not Russia’s richest man for nothing
$21bn+ | 59 | Married | 2 Children | Russia | ↑

The Uzbek-born Moscovite spent six years in the 1980s in jail on fraud charges and on release started cobbling together steel mills and iron ore mines which he consolidated into Metalloinvest in 2006 before moving into tech and telecoms.

Got in on the ground floor of Russia’s largest web firm, Twitter, Groupon, Facebook and China and the world’s largest ecommerce firm Alibaba. Raised $2bn with blockbuster London IPO of cellphone co Megafon just last November. Bonus: Stock is up 50% since then.

Amid persistent allegations he’s friends with Russian mafioso, he was bailed out by Russian state bank VTB to the tune of $2bn escaping the 2008 financial crisis unscathed. Repaid the Kremlin’s largesse by among other gestures buying cellist Rostropovich’s art collection and donating it to the state.

Owns part of Arsenal to the chagrin of the English football club’s fans and last year picked up a kitted out Airbus A340 to attend board meetings at his headquarters in the British Virgin Islands tax haven.

Prospects: Good – the best connections and diversification paid off, and he’s sitting on a cool $7bn cash pile

commercial business loans info flyer (7)

Henry Sapiecha

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3…Iron Ore & Steel

Georgina Rinehart

Absolute ruler of iron ore, coal and the family trust
$17bn-$18bn | 59 | Widow | 4 Children | Australia | ↑

Rinehart inherited Hancock Prospecting from her father Lang Hancock who discovered the world’s largest iron deposit in the Pilbara in 1952.

A handsome stream of royalties from Rio Tinto and ownership of various coal and iron ore projects in Australia, should keep Rinehart near the top of mining’s richest despite a few legal setbacks in 2012 and the institution of a tax she fought so hard against.

Move into media, statements about Australians’ work ethic and secession politics has made Rinehart a polarizing figure in her home country, even as her private life continues to be marred by a bitter family feud.

Prospects: Good – no longer set to become world’s richest person, but her quality properties will continue to attract investment


Henry Sapiecha

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4Base Metals

Iris Fontbona

Married into Chile’s richest family at age 19
$16bn-$17bn | 70 | Widow | 3 Children | Chile | ↓

Iris is the widow of Andronico Luksic who built London-listed Antofagasta into one of the world’s largest copper producers from 1980 until his death in 2005.Luksic had a lucky break early on when a Japanese company paid him US$500,000 – a tidy sum in 1954 – for an Atacama desert concession.Nippon Mines paid in dollars instead of the pesos Luksic was asking for and he used the windfall to build an empire that today includes banks, breweries and ports.Luksic’s five offspring, two from an earlier marriage, are actively involved in the business and also own two beach resorts in Croatia, bought in honour of the patriarch’s origins.

Prospects: Good – Chile is on growth path and copper fundamentals remain strong

commercial business loans info flyer (1)
Henry Sapiecha
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Rinat Akhmetov

A coal miner’s son who cornered an entire industry
$15bn-$17bn | 46 | Married | 2 Children | Ukraine | ↑ ↓

Akhmetov, still only in his early 30s, made the most of the chaotic break-up of the Soviet Union and like many of his oligarch pals picked up privatized state companies for cents on the rouble.

The politically connected ex-parliamentarian’s 100%-owned conglomerate SCM controls over 60% of coal production and energy generation in Ukraine. Little is known about his private life and estimates of his wealth vary wildly – some putting it as high as $25bn.

He owns the Shakhtar Donetsk (Shakhtar means “miner”) soccer club in his hometown, but spends most of his time in London where he owns a $220m pied-a-terre and has Kazakhmys’ Vladimir Kim as a neighbour.

Prospects: Difficult to say – he’s apparently fallen out with long-time collaborator, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, but his wealth appears immune to market or political forces


Henry Sapiecha

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6…Base Metals

German Larrea & Family

The lesser spotted Mexican king of copper
$15bn-$17bn | 59 | Married | Mexico| ↑

German Larrea and his mother Sara Mota de Larrea together own 52% of Grupo Mexico, the world’s seventh largest copper producer and the Latin American country’s dominant railroad firm.

German inherited the business from his father Jorge who built up the conglomerate after buying two copper mines from the Mexican government in the 1980s.

The base and precious metals miner has been plagued by strikes at its 100-year old Cananea mine which forced German to make an extremely rare public appearance in court.

Grupo Mexico courted controversy when it attempted to merge 80%-owned Southern Copper Corp and Asarco. In a now infamous case in October 2011 a Delaware judge ruled Grupo Mexico must return $1.3 billion to Southern Copper for forcing Asarco to overpay for Minera México.

Prospects: Good – the company is expanding operations in its home country, Chile and Peru and has put most of its legal and labour problems in the past.


Henry Sapiecha

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7…Iron Ore & Steel

Lakshmi Mittal

Being named after goddess of wealth and prosperity should help
$15bn-$16bn | 62 | Married | 2 Children | India | ↓

In 2008 Mittal stood $45 billion strong but with so much of his wealth tied up in ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker with coking coal and iron ore mines around the globe, he’s very exposed to any downside in the sector.

He’s splashed more than $400m on mansions in ‘Billionaires Row’ – Kensington Palace Gardens in his adopted home London and also sponsored the controversial steel structure dominating the city’s Olympic Park.

An avid skier, he owns a favourite bauble of billionaires, a soccer club, and famously spent $60m on his daughter’s five-day wedding in Paris which culminated in dinner at Versailles.

Prospects: Not great – huge debt problems and continuing weakness in core market Europe


Henry Sapiecha

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8…Base Metals

Vladimir Potanin

Nickel baron and Renaissance man
$14bn | 52 | Married | 3 Children| Russia | ↓

Potanin now owns 28% of Norilsk Nickel, top nickel and palladium miner, and is CEO again after settling a 5-year dispute with co-shareholder and Rusal chief Oleg Deripaska after President Vladimir Putin banged some heads together.

Potanin also controls Russia’s biggest media group, is a big promoter of Russian arts and took it on upon himself to finance the $2.2bn ski-resort for Russia’s hosting of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Fluent in English and French, in 1996 at the tender age of 35 he had a brief stint as First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. He’s vowed to give most of his fortune to charity.

Prospects: Not good – the Sochi project is unlikely to ever turn a profit and Norilsk has been forced to pay huge dividends to Rusal with a nickel price that’s going nowhere


Henry Sapiecha

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9…Iron Ore & Steel

Vladimir Lisin

Welding together a steel and transportation giant
$14bn | 56 | Married | 3 Children| Russia | ↓

Tanking stock in his Novolipetsk Steel has wiped out $10 billion of Lisin’s wealth since 2011.

The steelmaker, which traces its roots to the 1930s, owns Russia’s third largest iron ore mine.

Lisin picked up his 85% stake when the state-run company was privatized in the 1990s, and after taking it public in 2005 used the proceeds to move into railways, shipping and ports on the Baltic and Black seas.

A gun enthusiast, he owns a 1,300 hectare 17th-century Scottish castle to indulge his passion for grouse and deer hunting. Lisin started out as a welder and graduated from the Siberian Metallurgical Institute in 1979 and also holds doctorates in Metal Engineering and Economics.

Prospects: Middling – Novolipetsk’s biggest worries have abated, but Russian economic growth is slowing


Henry Sapiecha

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mikhail-prokhorov image


Mikhail Prokhorov

Presidential candidate, kickboxer, playboy and occasional miner
$13bn | 47 | Single | Russia | ↑

He’s a 6’8″ martial arts expert and ‘freestyle’ jet ski champ and owner of Brooklyn Nets that fits the title playboy to a t.

Prokhorov is from proud Russian farm stock, made his money during the Yeltzin era snagging a majority stake in Norilsk Nickel with Vladimir Potanin, but their friendship came to an abrupt end when Prokhorov sold his 25% stake to fellow oligarch Oleg Deripaska in 2007.

Quirks include shunning vodka and mobile phones, publishing ‘Snob’ magazine in the US with his beloved sister and running for president against Vladimir Putin in 2012, garnering 8% of the vote without really trying.

Prefers staying liquid. $10bn of his fortune is cold hard cash, but can be sloppy with money: once forfeited a $55m deposit on a French Riviera mansion.

Prospects: Good – sold his stake in Polyus Gold for $3.6bn in February and is polishing his copper-nickel firm Intergeo for a Toronto listing


Henry Sapiecha

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Batista files for bankruptcy

Once the richest person in the world of mining Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista’s flagship company has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Reuters reports Batista’s oil and gas explorer OGX applied for “judicial recovery” as the process is known in Brazil after debt restructuring talks with holders of $3.6 billion in bonds ended with no agreement.

The bonds are part of $5.1 billion distressed debts at the company and OGX’s demise is Latin America’s largest corporate default in history.

The rise of his empire built on the commodities boom was nothing if not spectacular.

He started out with small-scale gold mining in the Amazon before graduating to the big leagues with gold, iron ore, oil & gas, shipping, energy, construction and sports promotion companies.

OGX was set to give credence to Batista’s publicly stated goal of becoming the richest person in the world.

Batista founded OGX, one of five public companies controlled by the flamboyant Brazilian, only in 2007 with $1.3 billion raised from private investors.

His fortune topped out at an eye-watering $32.8bn in April last year after OGX struck oil off the Brazilian coast and investors piled into the company which boasted oil reserves valued at $1 trillion by the man himself.

Batista was born into mining as son of a CEO of iron giant Vale and the young Eike led the playboy lifestyle, dropping out of engineering school, marrying a nude model and becoming a speedboat world champion.

Ever the consummate salesman, Batista famously sold Minas Rio to Anglo-American in 2008, pocketing $5.5 billion and getting rid of what has become Anglo’s biggest asset write-off on record.

Batista’s divestiture strategy to shore up the vast debts he had built up had more than a whiff of a fire sale this year as his firms began to run out of capex funds and creditors started making collateral calls.


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The world’s first publicly-available bitcoin ATM is set for release this week in Vancouver, Canada.

Vancouver bitcoin trading company Bitcoiniancs has ordered five of the ATMs from Nevada-based RoboCoin. The final destinations of the other four kiosks are expected to be Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.

“Basically, it just make it easier for people to buy and sell bitcoins and hopefully will drive the adoption of bitcoin, and make it more accessible for people,” said the owner of Bitcoiniacs Mitchell Demeter.

The CEO of RoboCoin’s goal is to “make bitcoin truly grandma-friendly.”

Bitcoin investors are hoping that the currency can repair the damage from the recent shut down of online black marketplace ‘Silk Road’, a site that relied heavily on bitcoin to protect the identities of its buyers and sellers.

Bitcoin has been on a hot streak over the past couple of weeks, currently trading at just over $200/coin.



Henry Sapiecha

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The trading coin for internet currency is changing the concept of worldwide virtual currency













Henry Sapiecha

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The trading coin for internet currency is changing the concept of worldwide virtual currency













Henry Sapiecha

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champagne chilled in bucket image

A pair of Russian multi-millionaires reportedly tried to outspend each other in a London nightclub this week, racking up a combined drinks tab of more than $220,000 in one very boozy evening, according to US website CNBC.

It was reported that the unnamed businessmen were holding court in a private members function at the newly opened Kitsch nightclub and kicked off a spending race by ordering rounds of high-end champagnes Cristal and Dom Perignon at $2330 (per magnum) and $550 (per bottle) respectively.

The eventual drinks tab, delivered to the pair at 2.40am, totted up to £66,778.91 ($112,853) and £64,279.70 ($108,640) respectively, with the owner of the biggest bill reportedly jumping up and down and waving his receipt to celebrate.

The winner’s tab included 30 magnums of Cristal, 20 bottles of Dom Perignon, seven bottles of 1998-vintage Krug champagne and two magnums of Belvedere vodka.

See the winner’s tab.

His vanquished rival ordered 64 bottles of Dom Perignon, 25 bottles of Cristal, 20 bottles of Ace of Spades champagne, 12 bottles of Dom Perignon Rose and eight bottles of Bella Epoque Rose.

See the losing bill.

Between them, the two parties also consumed 20 “Crack Baby” cocktails, 10 shots of 18-year-old Glenmorangie whisky, 10 Peroni beers, seven mojito cocktails, 44 cans of Red Bull energy drink and just 14 bottles of water.

The service charge – or tip – on the winner’s bill came to £8710.29 ($14,720) alone.

A nightclub patron told London’s Evening Standard newspaper: “It was one of the most bizarre nights I’ve ever seen. These two guys were competing with each other to buy more and more champagne — each time one would buy five bottles the other would order six, then seven, then eight.

“There was a massive crowd of stunning women around each table in no time and frankly these guys needed some help drinking it all anyway.”

It’s the latest episode in a growing list of stories of conspicuous consumption by ultra-rich Russian businessmen, who enjoy spending their wealth in public as a way to prove their success.


Henry Sapiecha

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Judge rejects trustee

preferred by Ginia Rinehart


The NSW Supreme Court has rejected a proposed replacement trustee put forward by Gina Rinehart’s daughter Ginia Rinehart on the basis that it was too late to allow her siblings to investigate her proposal.

The decision was made by Judge Paul Brereton on Friday morning, less than 24 hours after he refused to let Bianca Rinehart to nominate as replacement trustee of the $5 billion family trust due to the delay.

Friday’s judgment means the only remaining possible replacements are Bruce Carter, put forward by the plaintiffs, or John Hancock if he chooses to stand. Christopher Withers, John and Bianca’s barrister, said he needed to take instructions on that.

Ginia Rinehart has suggested an independent trustee be appointed under a more complex structure. The judge said it would be “highly desirable” to allow both Bianca and Ginia’s suggestion to stand if the parties would agree to that, but that otherwise he rejected both.

“We seem to be getting rid of them all very, very quickly, and we will end up with a default solution effectively,” Justice Brereton said.

The rejection of Bianca on Thursday was at the request of Ginia, who has sided with her mother in the dispute over the trust, set up for the­ ­children by their grandfather Lang ­Hancock.

Bianca has stood alongside her brother John for the last two years, fighting their mother over her management of the family trust and accusing her of deceiving them.

It was not until Tuesday morning that a last-minute tactical decision was made to nominate Bianca as replacement trustee – a move supported by John, who withdrew his nomination for the coveted position.

Bianca’s decision was vigorously fought by Ginia, who argued that she would need time to investigate and gather evidence on whether her sister would be suitable, and that could not be done in the space of a few days.

Justice Brereton agreed and said that to allow Bianca to stand would create an “unacceptable injustice” to Ginia.

Henry Sapiecha
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