Two years ago, he was just another Russian magnate: rich but not so well known.
Today, after buying luxury penthouses in New York and Paris, king-size yachts and jets as well as the famous Greek island of Skorpios, once owned by shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, he is probably the only man capable of making football fans all around the world forget about Roman Abramovich.
Dmitry Rybolovlev, businessman, investor and owner of football club AS Monaco, has spent hundreds of millions of euros in less than a month to reinforce his newly promoted football side.
In order to lure FC Porto’s talented midfield duo of James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho, Rybolovlev did not hesitate to spend around 70 million euros. Determined to build a new football empire in the Principality of Monaco, he offered another 60 million euros to Spanish side Atletico Madrid for Colombian striker Radamel Falcao.
Born in 1966 in Perm, Russia, Rybolovlev graduated from the Perm Medical Institute as a cardiologist in 1990. In 1992 he became the first businessman in the Perm region to obtain a Russian Ministry of Finance certificate entitling him to deal with securities. In the same year he opened an investment company.
Two years later, Rybolovlev founded a bank, acquired shareholdings in several of Perm’s industrial enterprises and joined their boards.
In 1995, Rybolovlev sold most of his shareholdings and focused in enterprises operating in the potash industry, in particular, Uralkali.
Over the next 15 years Rybolovlev focused on developing Uralkali and eventually built it into a major global enterprise. In June 2010, Rybolovlev sold a 53% shareholding in Uralkali to a group of Russian investors. The transaction price was not disclosed, but was reported to be around four billion euros.
In December 2010, Uralkali announced plans to buy potash producer, Silvinit and form one of the world’s largest potash manufacturers. The merger was finalised in July 2011. Rybolovlev had already sold the remaining 10% of his shares of Uralkali to a company owned by Alexander Nesis in April 2011.
Glamour & Philanthropy
In 2012, Rybolovlev was ranked #119 among Forbes billionaires, with a net worth of slightly more than seven billion euros. Amongst his assets stands the Maison de L’Amitie in Florida, which he purchased from Donald Trump for 72.8 million euros. In December 2011, Rybolovlev’s daughter Ekaterina purchased the most expensive apartment to have been bought at that time in New York, for 67.5 million euros. The total area of the 10-room apartment, which overlooks Central Park, is 626 square meters.
Rybolovleva’s acquisitions weren’t over just yet. In April 2013, she rented for the next 99 years the Skorpios island in Greece, from Athena Onassis Roussel, granddaughter of Aristotelis Onassis. The deal was completed for the amount of 116.6 million euros.
At the same time, Rybolovlev began to dabble in philanthropy. He supported the re-building of the Oranienbaum palace in St. Petersburg as well as the Russian Olympians Foundation and the restoration of the Zachatievsky Monastery in Moscow.
Thus, he donated 17.5 million euros for the re-building of the Cathedral of Nativity of Theotokos in Moscow. He has also been involved in the restoration of the iconostasis of the Cathedral of Exaltation of the Cross recreated in Belogorsk Saint Nicolas Monastery.
In Cyprus, Rybolovlev was involved in the construction of the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in Limassol, which is designed by the Russian architect Alexei Vorontsov. The Church will have a size of 1050 m² and the building will accommodate a congregation of between 500 and 600 people. The estimated cost of the project is five million euros.
Prince of (tax) heaven
After AS Monaco’s 66% of total shares were acquired by Rybolovlev in December 2011, much criticism arose about the future tax relief he would enjoy for his business as the new Russian ‘prince’ of the Mediterranean Principality.
In economic terms, Monaco enjoys quite a favorable confrontation regarding taxes.
At the same time, France has imposed high taxation, pushing rather rich personalities, such as famous actor Gerard Depardieu, who acquired the Russian citizenship, to search for adopted “motherlands”.
In footballing economic terms, the gap between Monaco and the rest of the French sides competing in Ligue 1 is even wider. For example, a football player with an annual salary of one million euros will cost the Monaco based club a total of 1,051,223 euros, taxes included, whereas every other team of Ligue 1 would have to pay a total amount of 3,190,900 euros, taxes included, just to match the offer.
French sides have repeatedly complained about this apparent economic injustice to the Ligue 1 clubs’ federation, asking for Monaco’s football club to be based on French soil. Thus, a lot of French football teams refuse to sell their players to Monaco, in a rather unique way to ‘punish’ the club for receiving ‘special’ economic treatment.
Another controversy arose recently. The ASM claimed that the top French football club’s federation leader, Noel Le Graet, requested the club to pay 200 million euros to put an end to the conflict and to let the club stay in Monaco. For AS Monaco, this demand is “totally unacceptable” and plans to go to court.
In a statement, the French football club’s federation (FFF) vehemently denies this version and claims that it was Rybolovlev who offered the FFF the astonishing amount of 200 million euros to establish that Monaco’s team will continue to be based in the Principality.