Russian Billionaire Takes a Local Interest

The Russian-Jewish billionaire Oleg Deripaska - at 36, one of the youngest billionaires in the world - is examining investment opportunities in Israel.

Moti Bassok
Sophie Shulman
Moti Bassok
Sophie Shulman

The Russian-Jewish billionaire Oleg Deripaska is examining investment opportunities in Israel. Deripaska, 36, one of the youngest billionaires in the world, arrived in his private jet last Thursday for a quick visit to Tel Aviv, accompanied by his friend Lord Nathaniel Rothschild of London.

The two men announced that they were exploring possibilities for a joint venture to promote educational and technological projects in Israel. Deripaska said during his visit that he believes there is a huge potential for implementing Israeli technological innovations in Russia and other world markets.

Deripaska's personal worth is estimated at $3.3 billion, putting him at 143th place on Forbes' list of the world's most affluent people. He owns a 75-percent stake in Russian Aluminum (RusAl), the second largest aluminum exporter in the world. He established the company together with another Russian-Jewish tycoon, Roman Abramovich, who also owns the British Premier League soccer team Chelsea. In October, Deripaska bought 25 percent of Abramovich's shares in RusAl to build his stake to 75 percent.

Deripaska also had business connections in the past with another Russian-Jewish billionaire, Michael Chernoy. Deripaska took over Chernoy's Transworld company, which served as the basis for establishing RusAl.

But what really helped Deripaska's meteoric rise to riches was the fact that he married the daughter of Boris Yeltsin's bureau chief (who himself later married the daughter of former president Yeltsin).

During the past three years, Deripaska has helped finance educational programs administered by the Jewish Federation in Russia. He is also an active board member of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.

Baron Rothschild is married to Nili Limon, the daughter of Mordechai (Mocca) Limon, who was the commander of the Israel Navy in the early 1950s. The baron is a past chairman of the board of trustees of Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva.

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