Media-shy Andrei Guriev has long been known as the richest man in Murmansk Oblast with a reported fortune of more than two billion USD. That fortune has all been developed in the course of more than a decade of close relations with Phosagro and its subsidiary Apatit. The size of Guryev’s stake in the company has however remained unclear.
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Fosagro’s reluctance to reveal information about its shareowners was somewhat eased in connection with the IPO announced by the company last week. According to newspaper Vedomosti, Guriev and his family control a majority share of Phosagro. Other owners of the company are Vladimir Litvinenko with about five percent, former company manager Igor Antoshin (1,9 %) and Volkov (0,99 %).
Phosagro owns 58 percent of the Apatit company, the fertilizer producer based in Kirovsk, Murmansk Oblast.
The exact ownership stake of Guryev still remains unknown. His ownership might by far exceed the fifty percent barrier. Already in 2001-2002, fifty percent of the company was sold to the company management, then headed by Guriev himself. Later, in 2005, the remaining 50 percent of the company was sold, also that to the company management, Vedomosti writes. The latter deal came as the Menatep Group, a part of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s business empire, collapsed under the pressure from the federal authorities.
Menatep had established Fosagro in 2001 and controlled 50 percent of its shares until 2005. The Group was accused of illegitimately having privatized 20 percent of Apatit to a price below market value, and this constituted a key part of the basis for the accusations against Khodorkovsky and his partner Platon Lebedev. Sky-high tax demands were subsequently raised against Apatit by Russian authorities. However, the Phosagro’s management still managed to soften demands after negotiations with the Russian government, Wikipedia informs.
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According to Forbes, Andrei Guriev in 2011 has a fortune of 2,3 billion USD, which makes him the 41st richest person in Russia. Guriev is however not only a man of oligarchic proportions. He also holds the post as senator of Murmansk Oblast ever since 2001. That gives him a unique opportunity to lobby industrial interests in Murmansk, as well as his personal interests in the fertilizer sectors.
In the Federation Council, Guriev is member of the Committee on Issues of the North and Indigenous Peoples, as well as the Commission on National Maritime Policy.