Who Got Richer And Poorer : Gautam Adani Was Up, While Dish Network’s Chairman Got Downgraded

A Mumbai real estate developer and a high school dropout who flies fighter jets for fun also soared this week.

Fast-growing U.S. labor costs and a dip in the number of Americans filing new unemployment claims presented a rocky week for the markets. But overall the indexes saw a modest increase since last Friday, with the S&P 500 up 1.9% and the tech-centric Nasdaq Composite up 2.6%.

But not everyone fared well this week. Charles Ergen, the billionaire cofounder and chairman of Dish Network, shed $600 million of his fortune since last Friday as shares of his pay TV and wireless firm hit a 14-year low. Early this week Dish Network disclosed that it was hit by a ransomware attack in late February and that unspecified data was stolen.

Shares of Dish Network fell more than 6% on Tuesday after the company stated in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission that “certain data was extracted” in a breach that targeted internal communications and customer support operations. On top of that one influential analyst downgraded the firm on Tuesday, likely pushing shares even lower.

Other billionaires had a much better week. Indian tycoon Mangal Prabhat Lodha’s real estate firm Macrotech Developers reversed course from a 52-week low on Friday Feb. 24 following an analyst upgrade for the Mumbai-based property developer. Shares rose 38% this week. And India’s Gautam Adani–who was the world’s third richest person in mid January–got a boost as U.S.-based investor GQG Partners injected nearly $1.9 billion into four of the Adani Group’s listed companies. The investment followed a difficult month for Adani Group in the wake of a short-seller report released on Jan. 24.

Another billionaire who had a good week: Jared Isaacman, a fighter-jet flying payments entrepreneur, who got 18% richer after his payment processing company Shift4 Payments reported strong 2022 results, lifting shares to a 52-week high.

We tracked the change in fortunes from the market close on Friday, February 24 through the close on Friday, March 3.

Here’s how some of the world’s richest people fared this week.

Charles Ergen

Net Worth: $3.4 bil 🔴 Down $600 mil, -15%

Country: United States | Source Of Wealth: Satellite TV | View profile

The cyber attack that caused a multi-day service outage wasn’t the only thing that affected Dish this week. On Tuesday, Bank of America senior research analyst David Barden issued a rare double-downgrade for Dish, lowering the stock from buy to underperform. For Ergen, who took the pay television provider public in 1996 and in recent quarters has continued to watch Dish lose subscribers, the bad news represents a dentin his fortune. Dish shares price closed down 15% this week.

Dish has been trying for years to build a 5G wireless network to cover at least 70% of the U.S. by June of this year following the 2020 merger of its competitors Sprint and T-Mobile. Barden, along with other analysts, noted future opportunities in 5G might be scarce for Dish due to competition and technological challenges in the past year.

Mangal Prabhat Lodha

Net Worth: $4.9 bil 🟢 Up $1.5 bil, +44%

Country: India | Source Of Wealth: Real estate | View profile

Property magnate Lodha of India saw a massive 44% increase in his fortune this week after his Mumbai-based real estate firm Macrotech Developers was upgraded by Motilal Oswald Research, which noted an increase in the number of housing units registered in Mumbai in February and predicted that India’s per capita income will grow in the next decade. Lodha founded his property development firm in 1980 and took it public in 2021. He started out building homes for the middle class in Mumbai suburbs and later built Trump Tower Mumbai, a 75-story luxury apartment skyscraper. He and his family members own about 85% of the company’s shares.

Gautam Adani

Net Worth: $42.7 bil 🟢 Up $7.4 bil, +21%

Country: India | Source Of Wealth: Adani Group | View profile

GQG Partners, a U.S.-based firm with $92 billion in assets under management, put a total of $1.87 billion into four listed Adani Group companies, the group announced Thursday. The move boosted confidence in the group’s ability to bring in outside funding more than a month after short seller Hindenburg Research alleged the group of stock manipulation and accounting fraud. Adani Group has denied all such allegations.

Shares of Adani Enterprises, the group’s flagship company, rose a notable 43% this week, a climb that started several days before the GQG injection was disclosed. Adani Enterprises shares rose nearly 17% on Friday after GQG’s $660 million investment in the principal namesake was announced on Thursday after Indian markets closed. Shares of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone jumped 10% after GQG dropped $640 million on the firm; shares of Adani Ports hit a high mark since the Hindenburg report was released in late January.

Jared Isaacman

Net Worth: $2.2 bil 🟢 Up $400 mil, +18%

Country: United States | Source Of Wealth: Payment processing | View profile

Last year was a good one for Isaacman, the founder and CEO of payment processing firm Shift4 Payments. The company, which reported 2022 results on Tuesday, beat analysts’ earnings per share estimates and reported nearly $2 billion in 2022 revenue, a 46% increase over 2021, leading to a strong spike in the share price Tuesday that continued, lifting shares by 25% for the week.

“The success Shift4 enjoys today is the result of our early entry into the world of integrated payments,” Isaacman said in a letter to shareholders. “We are taking an aggressive position with respect to controlling costs in an uncertain environment and are committed to maintaining flat as possible headcount from 2022 exit levels.”


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Inside Mediobanca, The Investment Bank Making Record Profits Taking Italy’s Biggest Brands Public

Since its founding in 1946, Mediobanca has been at the heart of Italy’s economy. In the last decade, it’s done business with at least 10 Italian billionaires tied to companies like Ferrari and Moncler—and now it’s touting its success in its wealth management business.

Over the last decade, the Milan-based investment bank Mediobanca has had a hand in bringing some of Italy’s most iconic companies public, from sports car maker Ferrari to luxury fashion brands Brunello Cucinelli, Ferragamo, Moncler and Zegna. Last year, it advised the only two Italian companies to price IPOs at more than $1 billion on the Milan stock exchange—probe card manufacturer Technoprobe and electrode maker Industrie De Nora—in public listings that minted two new billionaires. And it helped the billionaire Benetton family and Blackstone close a $56 billion (including debt) buyout and delisting of infrastructure holding company Atlantia in November, the largest take-private transaction of the year—even bigger than Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter.

Altogether, Forbes estimates that Mediobanca has done business with at least 10 Italian billionaires in the past decade, either through working on their IPOs or helping them through mergers and acquisitions.

Some of those deals powered the bank to a record $595 million in net income on $1.8 billion in revenues in the last six months of 2022, a 6% and 14% increase, respectively, from the same period in 2021. A quarter of the revenues came from the bank’s wealth management division, which brought in $3.9 billion in net new money, or new client funds—an area which has grown thanks to Mediobanca’s relationships with entrepreneurs taking their companies public or selling them to private investors.

With a market capitalization of $9 billion, Mediobanca, founded in 1946, is a minnow compared to American behemoths such as JPMorgan Chase (with a $415 billion market cap) and Goldman Sachs ($117 billion market cap.) But when it comes to the lucrative market for public listings, mergers and acquisitions, the Milan-based bank has been punching above its weight. In January 2021, it was one of the advisors to French automaker PSA Group, better known as Peugeot, on its $52 billion merger with Fiat Chrysler to form a new conglomerate called Stellantis. Last September, Mediobanca was the exclusive advisor to Porsche on its $77 billion IPO on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the largest public offering in European history.

“Mediobanca is a unique model in private investment banking,” said Alberto Nagel, Mediobanca’s CEO, in the company’s latest earnings call on February 9. “We capture [IPOs and M&As] and we continue to grow in terms of net new money.”

Some of Italy’s richest people are also shareholders in Mediobanca. Delfin, the holding company of the late eyeglasses tycoon Leonardo Del Vecchio (d. July 2022), holds a 19.8% stake in the bank, while cement and publishing billionaire Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone owns 5.6%. Mediolanum Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi—also a billionaire—held a 2% stake in the bank until he sold it in May 2021. (Berlusconi is still an indirect investor through his 30.1% stake in Italian bank Mediolanum, which holds a 3.4% stake in Mediobanca; the billionaire Doris family owns 40.4% of Mediolanum.)

That hasn’t always been positive: Between 2019 and 2022, Del Vecchio and Caltagirone gradually bought more shares in Mediobanca and criticized what they perceived as the bank’s reliance on its 13% stake in Generali—Italy’s largest insurer, where Mediobanca, Delfin and Caltagirone all hold large stakes—for profits. Last year the two moguls mounted an activist shareholder campaign, opposing Mediobanca’s proposal to reappoint Generali’s CEO. The plan failed when Generali’s shareholders voted 55.9% in favor of the outgoing board last April, with only 41.7% backing the proposal led by Caltagirone.

Francesco Milleri, the new chairman of Delfin since Del Vecchio’s death, appeared to put an end to the feud last month. “Delfin remains a long-term investor in Mediobanca,” he said in a February 24 interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera. “Our investments in Mediobanca and Generali have been excellent, with increased value and generous dividends.” A spokesperson for Mediobanca told Forbes that neither Caltagirone nor Delfin have bought more shares or released any statements on Mediobanca and Generali since Generali’s April 2022 board meeting.

Still, their influence is limited. More than two-thirds of Mediobanca’s shareholders are retail and institutional investors: 16% hail from the U.S., a new area of focus for the bank, where it recently concluded a roadshow in late February. In 2021, it launched a co-investment initiative with asset manager BlackRock’s private equity unit, offering access to investments in privately-owned companies to Mediobanca’s ultra-high-net-worth clients—commonly defined as people with $30 million or more to invest.

That’s a stark contrast from Mediobanca’s early years. The bank was founded in 1946, the same year Italy became a republic and embarked on its recovery from World War II. The founders, Enrico Cuccia and Raffaele Mattioli, had both worked at Italy’s state-owned Banca Commerciale Italiana, a unit of the Italian public holding company established in 1933 to help the country’s businesses recover from the Great Depression. Their goal at Mediobanca was to help rebuild Italy’s economy and provide financing to its largest companies, which were struggling after years of war.

“After World War II there was a clear need to stimulate post-war reconstruction and favor the evolution of an Italian industrial system by linking it to financial markets,” Nagel told Forbes. “Mediobanca’s founders thought about a business that could act as a modern corporate and investment bank, with a deep understanding of the needs of [the country’s] industrial sectors and the ability to finance their growth with loans, guide them in raising capital on the market and advise them on mergers and acquisitions.”

Mediobanca went public in 1956 and four years later it launched a lending program called Compass, making it the first bank to offer personal loans to Italian consumers. It also played a central role in Italy’s postwar economic recovery and golden era of growth: Cuccia and Mediobanca helped finance the 1970 merger between Italian tire-making giant Pirelli and Ireland-based Dunlop and the rescue of ailing automaker Fiat in 1972. Mediobanca’s ability to offer financing at favorable rates, plus its cross-shareholdings in some of Italy’s largest industrial groups, gave the bank considerable influence in the Italian economy for decades.

That began to change when Cuccia stepped down as CEO in 1982 and in 1988, when Mediobanca—which was previously majority-owned by the Italian state—was privatized, in a deal that saw three of Italy’s national banks reduce their collective stake to 25%. In the 1990s, Mediobanca helped privatize several of Italy’s largest state-owned companies, including telecoms firm Telecom Italia and energy distributor Enel.

Another turning point came when Nagel took over as CEO in 2003, three years after Cuccia’s death in 2000. “One of Nagel’s ideas was to transition Mediobanca from a model of cross-shareholdings to a specialized bank in which the three divisions—corporate and investment banking, wealth management and consumer finance—work together in synergy,” a spokesperson for Mediobanca told Forbes.

Mediobanca expanded in 2004, opening offices in Paris and later in Moscow, Frankfurt, Madrid, New York and London. The bank then moved into digital retail banking in 2008 with the launch of CheBanca, and in 2016 it set up a private banking unit to manage the wealth of Italy’s richest families and entrepreneurs.

Still, the Italian market can only take Mediobanca so far, with the number of public listings falling by 35% to 32 last year from a record 49 in 2021. The bank also expects large merger and acquisition activity to slow for the rest of 2023, making it all the more important to keep key customers such as Porsche and continue its overseas expansion.

Last year, reports emerged that Lamborghini and Prada were weighing listing on European stock exchanges (Prada’s shares are currently listed in Hong Kong.) With its track record in fast cars and high fashion, Mediobanca could battle it out with its European and American rivals to take a cut of those deals—if they ever happen.

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Exclusive: New Investigation Reveals Gautam Adani’s Older Brother As Key Player In Adani Group’s Biggest Deals

Vinod Adani was at the heart of two massive Adani Group deals with French energy giant TotalEnergies, according to Indian filings. Forbes also found that Vinod is nearly five times richer than previously known.

By Giacomo Tognini and John Hyatt, Forbes Staff

In early 2021, Gautam Adani scored a big win. Adani Green Energy, one of eight publicly traded firms controlled by his Adani Group conglomerate, agreed to sell a 20% stake to French oil firm TotalEnergies. “We have a shared vision of developing renewable power at affordable prices,” said Adani at the time.

The deal was also a coup for TotalEnergies, now the world’s fifth-largest energy company by market capitalization. It paid $2 billion for Adani Green Energy shares that, on India’s stock exchange, were worth about $4.1 billion. As part of the deal, TotalEnergies also spent $510 million on a joint solar venture with the Adani Group.

“It’s a win-win situation for both companies,” says Haran Segram, an adjunct finance professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and Columbia Business School. In return for a “bargain” priced slice of Adani Green, TotalEnergies improved the Adani Group’s standing with foreign investors. “A European multinational oil company investing gives a lot of credibility for Adani Group,” says Segram.

Beyond being a good deal, the transaction was unique for another reason: its unconventional structuring. Rather than directly buying the shares, TotalEnergies acquired two Mauritius-incorporated funds (which held the stock) from a third Mauritius entity, Dome Trade and Investment Limited, according to Indian financial filings.

It turns out that Dome Trade’s ultimate owner—through a web of entities in Mauritius, the United Arab Emirates and the British Virgin Islands—is Vinod Adani, Gautam’s older brother, whose offshore entanglements with the Adani Group Forbes unraveled earlier this month. While 60-year-old Gautam is the Adani Group’s public face, it’s Vinod and his offshore companies that are facilitating some of the family conglomerate’s biggest deals, including two transactions with TotalEnergies, the company’s largest European partner—and, at least until recently, one that helped give the Adani Group credibility with Western financial institutions and investors.

In its bombshell 100-page report last month, U.S. short seller Hindenburg Research alleged that 74-year-old Vinod, who holds no formal position within the Adani Group, is a central figure in the company’s alleged accounting fraud and stock market manipulation. The Adani Group has denied all wrongdoing. The company and Vinod Adani did not respond to a request for comment. The company insists in a 413-page response to Hindenburg Research that Vinod “has no role in [the] day to day affairs” of the Adani Group’s businesses.

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By April 2022, TotalEnergies’ $2 billion investment in Adani Green Energy had ballooned to over $11 billion in value as the share price soared. But now, the French company is sitting on a loss. Its shares are worth just $1.7 billion—down from $7.3 billion at the start of the year—due to the Hindenburg-driven rout in Adani Group shares.

One reason the Adani Group and Vinod may have wanted to sell TotalEnergies their Mauritius-based funds, rather than the Adani Green Energy shares themselves, was to minimize taxes, says Aswath Damodaran, a professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business. In Mauritius, where there are no capital gains taxes, Indian nationals and companies have long parked assets as a way to “wash their capital gains and not have to pay taxes,” says Damodaran.

The structure of the deal also suggests tax benefits for TotalEnergies. Absent tax benefits, “It doesn’t make sense for [Total] as a company,” says Damodaran. “It creates a layer between [them] and [their] holding.”

Another possibility, says Mark Humphery-Jenner, an associate professor of finance at University of New South Wales Business School, is that both parties were wary of crashing Adani Green’s share price, given its low float. “The Mauritius funds—and Vinod Adani—might have wanted to exit but realized that if they sold in the open market, they would collapse Adani Green’s price. Therefore, a block trade via TotalEnergies would be a better option for Adani Green, and Vinod Adani,” says Humphery-Jenner.

A spokesperson for TotalEnergies told Forbes that “the purchase price of $2 billion (as disclosed in the public domain) was a reflection of the historical average share price of [Adani Green Energy] at the time of the negotiation and the fact that TotalEnergies was acquiring a non-controlling interest” and that “these transactions were negotiated between both TotalEnergies’ and Adani’s M&A and management teams.”

“We welcome the independent assessment that is being organized and we look forward to its results as well as the conclusions of investigations of the relevant Indian authorities,” the TotalEnergies spokesperson added.

Forbes found that the price that TotalEnergies paid for the Adani Green Energy shares on January 21, 2021—the day the deal closed—was 8% lower than the average price of the shares over the previous year and 62% lower than the average over the previous six months.

Vinod was also involved in the Adani Group’s first deal with TotalEnergies. The French group agreed to buy a 37.4% stake in publicly traded natural gas firm Adani Gas in October 2019. The deal closed in February 2020, with TotalEnergies paying $714 million, or $50 million less than the open market valued them at the time. Unlike the Adani Green Energy deal, TotalEnergies bought those shares directly from six different Adani-controlled entities, according to Adani Gas’ 2020 annual report. Four of those were Mauritius-based funds owned by Vinod; the others were an Indian company, owned by Vinod, Gautam and their brother Rajesh, and a trust, of which the three brothers are beneficiaries and trustees. It has also been a much better investment than Adani Green Energy: that stake is up five-fold, now worth $3.6 billion.

In a third deal, TotalEnergies bought a 25% stake in Adani New Industries Ltd.—a green hydrogen subsidiary of the conglomerate’s flagship Adani Enterprises—for an undisclosed sum last summer. Vinod’s involvement in that deal could not be confirmed, although he is a significant shareholder in Adani Enterprises. The deal “further strengthens our alliance with the Adani Group in India,” Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies, said at the time. That project was put on ice following Hindenburg’s report: “Obviously, the hydrogen project, which was discussed, will be put on hold as long as we don’t have clarity,” Pouyanné said in a February 8 earnings call.

Vinod also participated in the Adani Group’s $6.5 billion acquisition of Swiss firm Holcim’s stakes in Indian cement producers Ambuja Cements and ACC last September. His Mauritius-based company Endeavor Trade and Investment Limited purchased a 63% stake in Ambuja and 57% stake in ACC. A month later, in October, Vinod used another Mauritius entity he controls—Harmonia Trade and Investment Limited—to inject some $600 million into Ambuja by purchasing warrants that convert to shares. According to the filing, Harmonia will have to pay another $1.8 billion to Ambuja when it converts those warrants to shares, which would then give Harmonia a 19.4% stake in Ambuja—bringing Vinod’s overall stake in the cement maker to 70.3%.

Given these revelations, Vinod is much wealthier than previously thought. Forbes found that he owns eight Mauritius-based firms that hold $12.3 billion of shares in Adani Group companies, plus Ambuja and ACC. Accounting for pledged shares plus the cost to buy the cement companies, Forbes estimates that Vinod is worth at least $6 billion, up from our previous estimate of $1.3 billion published less than two weeks ago. Forbes previously attributed the value of those shares to Gautam; his revised net worth is now $33.4 billion—a sharp fall from his peak of $158 billion last September, when he was the world’s third-richest person. (As of Monday evening New York time, Gautam was the world’s 38th richest, per Forbes.)

It’s likely that Vinod holds even more shares in Adani companies through opaque entities he co-owns with his brothers. The largest shareholder in the Adani Group’s publicly traded companies is the S.B. Adani Family Trust, which Forbes attributes to Gautam. But Indian financial filings show that Vinod and three other Adani brothers—Rajesh, Mahasukh and Vasant—are also beneficiaries of the trust alongside Gautam, with Gautam, Rajesh and Vinod acting as trustees. There are another two companies—Adani Trading Services LLP and Adani Tradeline Private Limited—that also own shares in public Adani firms, which Forbes attributes to Gautam. According to Indian stock exchange filings, however, Gautam shares ownership of the two entities with Vinod and Rajesh. (The exact ownership breakdown of the S.B. Family Trust, Adani Trading Services and Adani Tradeline remains unclear.)

Vinod also has a private real estate empire in Dubai, where he’s lived since 1994. According to Dubai property records, Vinod owns 37 residential and commercial properties worth an estimated $17 million in the emirate, including a 2,700-square-foot villa in the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world. The data, which dates from 2020, was obtained by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., that researches international crime and conflict. It was then shared with Norwegian financial outlet E24, which coordinated an investigation into the real estate.

The Dubai records also show that Vinod holds an Indian passport issued in 2013 and expiring in 2026—a detail that seemingly contradicts Adani public filings describing him as a citizen of Cyprus, since India doesn’t allow dual citizenship. A spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska May Have Probed Vladimir Potanin Using Ex-FBI Agent Who Was Thorn In Trump’s Side

The indictment alleges that Deripaska retained a former FBI agent and a former Russian diplomat to investigate the assets of a rival oligarch, which Forbes found likely refers to Vladimir Potanin, Russia’s second-richest person.

Last Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped a bombshell when it indicted a former FBI agent and a former Russian diplomat and interpreter on charges of money laundering and violating sanctions to help sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The 21-page indictment reads like the script of a mobster flick: the defendants refer to their sanctioned client as “our friend from Vienna,” “you know whom” and “the big guy.”

But the most striking allegation is that Deripaska sought to retain the former special agent, Charles McGonigal, and the former diplomat, Sergey Shestakov, to conduct an investigation into another, unnamed Russian oligarch with whom Deripaska was “contesting control over” a “large Russian corporation” in the spring of 2021. The effort allegedly involved looking into the rival oligarch’s assets outside of Russia and the possibility that he held another passport besides his Russian one.

A person familiar with the situation told Forbes that “probably [the oligarch] is Vladimir Potanin.” Vladimir Potanin is one of Russia’s richest people with an estimated $27.5 billion fortune. The “Russian corporation” likely refers to Norilsk Nickel, one of the world’s largest producers of nickel and palladium, also known as Nornickel.

“Deripaska was collecting materials to file a lawsuit in London [against Potanin] in order to force a new shareholder agreement for Norilsk Nickel to be concluded on the same terms,” the person added. A representative for Deripaska did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s not the first time that Deripaska and McGonigal have been in the spotlight: They were both involved in the FBI investigation into the contacts between Russia and Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign. An FBI deputy assistant director stated in 2020 that an email from McGonigal in 2016 regarding Trump campaign advisor George Padadopoulos’ claims to have “political dirt” on Hillary Clinton helped spark the Trump-Russia investigation, while the FBI reportedly attempted to recruit Deripaska as a potential informant, given that he had previously employed Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, as an adviser. In a post on his Truth Social platform on Tuesday, Trump said of McGonigal: “May he Rot In Hell!”

Starting in 2018, the indictment alleges, McGonigal began working with Shestakov and an “employee and agent of Deripaska” cited as “Agent-1.” The indictment lays out the lengths to which McGonigal and Shestakov allegedly went to dig up dirt on the rival oligarch. The effort began in August 2021, when the two defendants, working with “Agent-1,” drafted and executed a contract with a Cyprus corporation that would in turn pay a New Jersey-based firm—owned by a friend of McGonigal—$41,790 a month and $51,280 upon execution of the contract for “business intelligence services, analysis, and research relevant to the [Russian corporation], its business operations and shareholders.” Between August and November 2021, the New Jersey-based firm received a total of $218,440 in payments wired from a Russian bank, according to the indictment.

As part of the investigation, McGonigal allegedly retained a subcontractor to carry out a “soup to nuts” investigation of the oligarch and the Russian corporation. In October 2021, the subcontractor told McGonigal that a third party had located “dark web” files that revealed “hidden assets valued at more than $500 million” and “other information that McGonigal believed would be valuable to Deripaska.” The indictment further alleges that McGonigal and Shestakov negotiated with “Agent-1” to obtain funds from Deripaska to purchase the dark web files between late October and late November 2021; FBI special agents seized their personal electronic devices on November 21, 2021.

The feud between Deripaska and Potanin dates back to April 2008, when Deripaska’s Rusal purchased a 25% stake in publicly traded Nornickel from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov in a cash-and-stock deal—estimated to be worth $14 billion—that included giving Prokhorov a 14% stake in Rusal. Prokhorov was Potanin’s original partner in Nornickel, with the two men cofounding banking group Oneximbank in 1993 and later acquiring Nornickel through the infamous loans-for-shares scheme in the 1990s—an arrangement in which Potanin and other businessmen provided financial backing for the reelection campaign of Russian president Boris Yeltsin, in return for stakes in state-owned energy and commodities assets obtained at bargain prices if Yeltsin won. (He did.)

Soon after the 2008 deal closed, Deripaska and Potanin clashed over Potanin’s influence over Nornickel’s board, the company’s share buyback plan and purchases of assets from Potanin’s Interros. They first reached a truce that December, when Rusal dropped its legal claim against Nornickel over the company’s share buyback. But the battle had flared up again by August 2010, when Rusal filed a request for arbitration against Potanin’s Interros in the London Court of International Arbitration and launched a website named “Save Norilsk Nickel” the following month.

Another Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich, stepped in two years later to cool the tensions. He and his partners, fellow billionaires Alexander Abramov and Alexander Frolov, purchased a 6% stake in Nornickel for $1.5 billion in December 2012. Abramovich, Potanin and Deripaska then agreed to form a board with Potanin and Deripaska nominating four members each plus one for Abramovich. The deal, set to last for a decade (it expired on January 1, 2023), also kept Potanin as Nornickel’s CEO and committed Nornickel to a new dividend policy.

But the deal came under strain in 2018, when Potanin attempted to buy part of Abramovich’s shares in Nornickel—a move challenged by Rusal and halted by a London court in June 2018. Abramovich later sold some of his stake to Potanin in early 2019. By August 2020 Potanin was calling the agreement a “relic of the past” in an interview with Reuters.

Things appeared to have calmed down by April 2021, when Rusal stated it was “satisfied” with a decision by Nornickel’s board to buy back shares worth $2 billion. It was around that same time, the U.S. indictment alleges, that Deripaska had begun to seek an investigation into his rival oligarch in the spring of 2021. For his part, Potanin began expanding his empire after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, re-purchasing Russian banking group Rosbank from French firm Société Générale last April and snapping up Russian bank Tinkoff Bank two weeks later, both for undisclosed amounts.

As recently as last July, Potanin was publicly musing about a potential $60 billion merger between Rusal and Nornickel, months before the January 1, 2023 expiration date of the 2012 agreement. But it became a non-starter after Potanin was sanctioned by the U.S. on December 15, 2022. Deripaska had already been sanctioned by the U.S. in April 2018. (Both men have also been sanctioned by the U.K., but the EU has only sanctioned Deripaska while leaving Potanin untouched—potentially due to Europe’s dependence on Nornickel’s nickel and palladium exports.)

The latest salvo in the Deripaska-Potanin fight came on October 21, when Rusal filed a lawsuit in London’s High Court against Potanin. “Rusal’s claims are based on Mr. Potanin’s failure to fulfill his duties as Norilsk Nickel’s managing partner and CEO,” Rusal said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “Under the management of Mr. Potanin, Norilsk Nickel lost a number of assets that played a key role in [the] group’s activities. This resulted in Norilsk Nickel and its shareholders suffering significant losses.” (Potanin owns 37% of Nornickel through his investment holding company Interros, while Deripaska has a 45% stake in publicly traded En+ Group, which in turn owns 26% of Nornickel plus 57% of Rusal.)

In the statement, Rusal also claimed that it “continuously tried to enter in constructive dialogue with Mr. Potanin for an out-of-court settlement” but “these attempts have been unsuccessful.”

Whether that “constructive dialogue” includes Deripaska’s alleged illegal investigation of Potanin’s assets or not, the war between the two oligarchs shows no signs of fading away.

Additional reporting by Elena Berezanskaya.

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Who Got Rich And Who Got Poor This Week


Gautam Adani lost $31 billion in one of the biggest weekly drops ever, while Elon Musk’s fortune rebounded by $28 billion.

By Gabriela Lopez Gomes

Itwas a wild week for the very richest in the world. U.S. stocks ticked up slightly in the past week – the S&P 500 index rose 2.5% and the Nasdaq ended up 4.3%, after the U.S. Commerce Department’s personal consumption expenditure index showed prices rising more slowly last month than they had been. Still two of the top ten richest people in the world had rather unusual weeks, posting one of the biggest gains and one of the biggest losses ever.

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani lost a stunning $31 billion, or 24% of his fortune, while Elon Musk gained nearly as much, thanks to a strong quarterly earnings report. We tracked the change in fortunes from the market close on Friday January 20 through the end of the day Friday January 27.

Here’s how some of the world’s richest people fared this week.

The net worth change is from close of markets Friday, January 27.

#1. Gautam Adani

Net Worth: $96.6 bil 🔴 Down $31.2 bil

Country: India | Source Of Wealth: Adani Group | View profile

Asia’s richest man, Adani is the biggest loser this week after bombshell headlines emerged late Tuesday evening following the release of a 100-page report by short seller Hindenburg Research alleging the “largest con in corporate history,” including claims of stock manipulation and accounting fraud.

Adani started the week as the world’s third richest person, worth $127.8 billion. His fortune fell by $6.5 billion on Wednesday. The Indian stock market was closed Thursday for a holiday. On Friday, the free fall continued, wiping $22.6 billion from his fortune in hours. Though that might seem like a record-breaking one-day collapse for a billionaire, it’s not; Elon Musk’s fortune fell by $24.5 billion a year ago, on Thursday, January 27, 2022.

Adani’s $31.2 billion drop this week dropped him four spots to seventh richest, with a net worth of $96.6 billion as of Friday’s market close. The Hindenburg Research report alleges that the Adani family used dozens of shell companies for stock manipulation and money laundering purposes. Adani Group Chief Financial Officer Jugeshinder Singh dismissed the Hindenburg report, calling it “selective misinformation” in a statement shared with Forbes.

In February last year, Adani overtook fellow Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani to become the richest person in Asia and No. 10 richest in the world, worth just over $90 billion. He zoomed past Warren Buffett later that month to become world’s fifth-wealthiest and moved ahead of Bill Gates in July after the Microsoft cofounder Gates gave $20 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Then in September, Adani briefly became the world’s second-richest person, worth $155 billion, overtaking Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and then-number two Arnault in the same week. He soon dropped back to world’s third richest, still ahead of Bezos, where he remained until this week.

#2. Elon Musk

Net Worth: $181.3 bil 🟢 Up $28.3 bil

Country: United States | Source Of Wealth: Tesla | View profile

As bad as Adani’s week was, Musk’s swung the opposite way. Tesla and Twitter CEO Musk was the biggest winner as Tesla’s stock jumped 33% following a very strong quarterly earnings report released on Wednesday, lifting his fortune by $28.3 billion. Tesla, whose stock has fallen by more than two-thirds in the past year, much of it since Musk announced plans to buy Twitter last April, surprised many by reporting record sales and profits. Investors cheered the news, sending the stock up 11% on Friday and 33% this week. “Long term, I am convinced that Tesla will be the most valuable company on earth,” said Musk on Wednesday’s earnings call. Musk remains the world’s second richest person, behind No. 1 French luxury goods tycoon Bernard Arnault.

#3. Tobias Lütke

Net Worth: $4.7 bil 🟢 Up $800 mil

Country: Canada | Source Of Wealth: Shopify | View profile

After a year of tech layoffs and sinking stock prices, Shopify’s share price rose nearly 24% in the past week, boosting CEO Tobias Lutke’s fortune by $800 million to $4.7 billion. The 42-year-old owns about 6% of the Canadian multinational, which enables small businesses to create online stores.

The price surge came after Shopify announced a 33% hike to subscription fees on Wednesday, with its basic plan going from $29 to $39 and the advanced plan jumping from $299 to $399 a month. The change will become effective for current users in the next three months.

Technology analyst Richard Tse of National Bank Financial Markets, says the price increase “appears to be a bigger move” by Shopify to increase the acceleration to profitability and have competitive pricing power. (Shopify, which went public in 2015, has yet to post a profit.)

#4. David Vélez

Net Worth: $4.3 bil 🟢 Up $400 mil

Country: Brazil | Source Of Wealth: Nubank | View profile

Vélez, cofounder and CEO of Brazilian online bank Nubank, is up $400 million for the week as U.S. listed stock in NU Holdings increased nearly 15% this week.

The stock rose due to the current interest rate stability in Brazil, says fintech analyst James Friedman of Susquehanna International Group. “Nubank’s stock suffered when interest rates went up last year, and now it’s starting to stabilize because there’s a perception that they are unlikely to rise more,” he says.

Nubank on Thursday announced a $150 million loan from the International Finance Corporation to strengthen its presence in Colombia, the fintech’s third largest market after Brazil and Mexico. The digital lender currently has around 65 million Brazilian customers. “There are good reasons to believe Nubank is the future of banking in Latin America,” says Friedman.


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