Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mikhail Prokhorov

Mikhail Dmitrievitch Prokhorov (born May 3, 1965) is a Russian billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the American basketball team, the New Jersey Nets. After graduating from the Moscow Finance Institute he made his name in the financial sector and went on to become one of Russia's leading industrialists in the precious metals sector. While he was running Norilsk Nickel, the company became the world's largest producer of nickel and palladium. He is currently chairman of Polyus Gold, Russia's largest gold producer, and President of ONEXIM Group.

Prokhorov is the third richest man from Russia and the 39th richest man in the world according to the 2010 Forbes list with a fortune estimated at $18 billion as per the Forbes Billionaire List.

Born in Moscow to Dmitry and Tamara Prokhorov, he has one sibling, an elder sister, Irina. His paternal grandparents were impoverished kulaks. His maternal grandmother, Anna Belkina, was a microbiologist. His father was the head of the international department of the Soviet Sports Committee, which gave him the rare privilege of traveling abroad. His mother grew up in Moscow and worked as an engineer for a university research group specializing in plastics. Prokhorov's father and mother died within a year of each other from heart disease; both were in their late 50s.

Sports and Patronage
In March 2004 he founded the Cultural Initiatives Foundation (as part of the Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation). It is headed by Prokhorov's elder sister, Irina, a prominent Russian publisher. At one time, he financially supported CSKA Moscow's basketball, hockey and football clubs, and is a member of the Supreme Council of the Sport Russia organization. Prokhorov currently serves as president of the Russian Biathlon Union.

In September 2009 he made an offer to buy a controlling interest in the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association and half of a project to build a new arena in Brooklyn. On May 11, 2010, the NBA approved the sale of the Nets to Prokhorov, making him majority owner of the team with an 80% stake, as well as a 45% interest in their new Barclays Center. He thus became the first non-North American and tallest (he stands 6'8") NBA owner.

A martial arts enthusiast, Prokhorov is, as of 2011, an Ambassador for Peace and Sport, a Monaco-based international organization, committed to serving peace in the world through sport.

In August 2006 he was awarded the Order of Friendship for his significant contribution to the growth of Russia’s economic potential, when the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, signed an order for the granting of state honours on August 18, 2006. In March 2011, he was bestowed with the French Legion of Honour. France's ambassador to Moscow, Jean de Gliniastrance, presented it at the French embassy in Moscow.

Russian Politics
In May, 2011, Prokhorov announced a plan to join the leadership of the Russian pro-business political party Right Cause. While not antagonistic to the Kremlin, the party is likely to support President Dmitry Medvedev rather than Prime Minister Vladimir Putin if the latter enters the 2012 presidential race. On June 25, 2011, Prokhorov was elected to the leadership of the party at the Right Cause Party Congress of 2011. At the acceptance ceremony, Prokhorov officially criticized the present ruling tandem of Medvedev-Putin, the structure of Russia, and vowed to bring Russia back to a stable development course. In September, 2011, Prokhorov said he had quit Right Cause, "condemning it as a 'puppet Kremlin party' micromanaged by a 'puppet master' in the president’s office ..., Vladislav Y. Surkov," according to a report in The New York Times.

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