Roman Abramovich is a Russian billionaire businessman, investor, and politician.
Abramovich is the primary owner of the private investment company Millhouse LLC and is best known outside Russia as the owner of the Chelsea Football Club, a Premier League soccer club. He was formerly governor of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug from 2000 to 2008. According to Forbes, Abramovich’s net worth was $11.5 billion in 2018, making him the richest person in Israel, 11th-richest in Russia, and the 140th-richest person in the world.
Abramovich is Chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (which is allied with Vladimir Putin’s administration), a trustee of the Moscow Jewish Museum, and donates money to the Chabad movement.
Abramovich’s family is Jewish and are from Tauragė, Lithuania, with the Lithuanian spelling of the family name being Abramavičius. His father Arkady (Aron) Abramovich (1937–1970) was a state office manager, while his grandfather Nahim (Nahman) Abramovich (1887–1942) was a businessman. Abramovich’s mother was Irina Michalenko, his maternal grandfather was Vassili Michalenko, and his maternal grandmother was Faina Grutman. After losing both parents at a young age, Abramovich was raised by relatives and spent much of his youth in the Komi Republic in northern Russia.
Abramovich started his multi-billion-dollar business during his army service. After a brief stint in the Soviet Army, Abramovich married his first wife, Olga. Abramovich first worked as a street-trader, and then as a mechanic at a local factory. At the peak of perestroika, Abramovich sold imported rubber ducks from his Moscow apartment.
Abramovich attended the Gubkin Institute of Oil and Gas in Moscow (where he sold retreaded car tires as a sideline), then traded commodities for Runicom, a Swiss trading company.
In 1988, as perestroika opened up opportunities for privatization in the Soviet Union, Abramovich got a chance to legitimize his old business. He and Olga set up a company making dolls. Within a few years his wealth spread from oil conglomerates to pig farms. He also started investing in other businesses. Abramovich set up and liquidated at least 20 companies during the early 1990s in sectors as diverse as tire retreading and bodyguard recruitment.
In 1992, Abramovich founded Mekong and began selling oil from Noyabrsk. Eventually, he met fellow Russian businessman and entrepreneur Boris Berezovsky.
Berezovsky introduced Abramovich to “the family,” the close circle around the then president, Boris Yeltsin, which included his daughter Tatyana Dyachenko and chief security adviser, Alexander Korzhakov. Together with Berezovsky, Abramovich founded the offshore company Gibraltar-registered Runicom Ltd. and five Western European subsidiaries.
In 1995, Abramovich and Berezovsky acquired a controlling interest in the giant Soviet oil company Sibneft. Affiliates of Abramovich, with affiliates of Boris Berezovsky, purchased Sibneft for a vastly undervalued $100.3 million (the company was worth $2.7 billion at that time).
In June 2003, Abramovich became the owner of the companies that control Chelsea Football Club in West London.
In 1999, Abramovich was elected to the State Duma as the representative for the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, an impoverished region in the Russian Far East. He started the charity Pole of Hope to help the people of Chukotka, especially children and, in December 2000, was elected governor of Chukotka.
Abramovich was the governor of Chukotka from 2000 to 2008. It has been estimated that he spent over $1.3 billion of his own money on the region, which now has one of the highest birth rates in Russia. Under Abramovich, living standards improved, schools and housing were restored and new investors were being drawn to the region.
In early July 2008 it was announced that President Dmitri Medvedev had accepted Abramovich’s request to resign as governor of Chukotka, although his various charitable activities in the region would continue.
Abramovich completed the application process and was granted Israeli citizenship in May 2018. The Varsano boutique hotel in Tel Aviv’s Neve Tzedek neighborhood is owned by Abramovich, and it is in the process of being converted into his Israeli home. Abramovich has invested tens of millions of dollars in more than a dozen Israeli startups, including BrainQ and StoreDot.
Roman Abramovich, Wikipedia.