2012 Mining Billionaires: #23 Andrew Forrest, #24 Sergei Popov, #25 Viktor Rashnikov
#23 Andrew Forrest
Outspoken Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest (pictured in 2011) has amassed a net worth of $5.8 billion through Fortescue Metals.
He grew up on a farm in Pilbara, Australia’s iron ore heartland, and after working as a stock broker he founded Anaconda Nickel. But it was the iron ore boom that supplied his fortune.
Fortescue, which Forrest took control of in 2003, only shipped its first ore in 2008 and has since grown to over $5 billion in revenues, rivaling the majors in exports to China.
In 2009 Australian securities regulators found that Forrest deceived shareholders when he said that he has binding export contracts with the Chinese. He is still fighting the charges but nevertheless stepped down as CEO of Fortescue in June last year to become chairman.
Forbes describes Twiggy’s rise this way: “Descendant of a pioneering Australian family of explorers and farmers, he has challenged, and beaten, some of the world’s biggest mining companies, building his own railway and port systems when they refused to carry his ore.”
He is also a vociferous opponent of Australia’s mining taxes and a tireless promoter of aboriginal rights.
Forrest lives in Perth, Australia. He is 50 years old and married with three children.
#24 Sergei Popov
Sergei Popov in 1993 co-founded MDM Bank with Andrey Melnichenko and the pair then moved into coal, fertilizer and pipes.
At $5.7 billion Popov’s net worth has rapidly fallen behind that of Melnichenko as the two continue to split their businesses, a process they started in 2006. Melnichenko is worth $10.8 billion after adding more than $2 billion over the last year while Popov’s wealth reduced by $2.2 billion.
Popov is concentrating on banking while Melnichenko is focusing on their resource businesses including SUEK (Siberian Coal Energy Company), number one Russian coal producer and exporter and Eurochem, the country’s largest mineral-fertilizer producer.
Popov, who is only 40, is married and has one child. He is the world’s #178th richest person, but doesn’t even make the top 20 in his native Russia.
#25 Viktor Rashnikov
Viktor Rashnikov is a product of Magnitogorsk’s Mining and Metallurgical Institute, graduating in 1974, and he still resides in the city 1,800 kilometres east of Moscow near the Kazakh border.
He started at Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel mill (MMK) as a machine minder but by the late 1990s had come to own the bulk of the steelmaker by buying up workers’ and the state’s shares (allegedly at vastly undervalued prices).
At the start of the previous decade he successfully fought a boardroom revolt, takeover attempts by fellow Russian metals man Iskander Makhmudov and a loan from European Bank of Reconstruction and Development that went sour.
He is certainly tenacious – Forbes reports “when he faced problems with iron ore supply, he bought the shares (with partners) of one of the biggest iron ore deposits in Russia. In 2007, Rashnikov took MMK public on the London Stock Exchange and pocketed around $1 billion; however the vast majority of his wealth remains tied up in the stock.”
After a very bad year during which he lost almost half his fortune Rashnikov is worth $5.6 billion. He is married with two children and is said to be an avid hockey fan.