Childhood & Early Life
Oleg Deripaska was born on January 2, 1968, in Dzerzhinsk, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Russian SFSR, in a Kuban Cossack family and was brought up in Ust-Labinsk, Krasnodar Krai.
His father died when he was very young and his mother, an engineer by profession, had to move out in search of work. He was primarily raised by his grandparents who taught him farming as well as discipline towards hard work.
Even before attaining teenage, Deripaska landed up with his first job, serving as an electrician's apprentice at the Ust-Labinsk plant where his mother was already serving.
In 1985, he enrolled at the physics faculty of ‘Moscow State University’ and completed his graduation with honours in physics from the university in 1993.
Meanwhile, he was enrolled for compulsory military service in 1986 following which he served Strategic Missile Forces of the Soviet army in the Trans-Baikal area, Siberia, till 1989.
Unable to continue his studies as a theoretical physicist due to the effect of dissolution of the Soviet Union, he enrolled at the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics and obtained a master degree in 1996.
He developed interest in reading from an early age and loved to read the books of Jack London and Mayne Reid.
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The first metal trading company established by him was VTK. He set it up at the age of 25 along with fellow engineers, rocket scientists and physicists. He delved in export arbitrage by purchasing metal at Russian prices considerably much lower than the international market price in which it was sold abroad.
Most of the profits made from such dealings were spent by him to obtain a portion of shares of a smelter in Southern Siberia, the ‘Sayanogorsk Aluminium Smelter’. He went on to acquire more shares and vouchers of the smelter during 1993-94 and emerged as its largest individual shareholder after the Russian State by holding a stake of 20%.
From 1994 to 1997 he remained the prime shareholder of the smelter as also the General Manager. He also became the Director General of the plant in 1994.
‘Sayanogorsk Smelter’ went on to become the main asset of Sibirsky (Siberian) Aluminium Group in 1997 while Deripaska served as President of Sibirsky Aluminium Investment Industrial Group from 1997 to 2001. The investment industrial group eventually became Rusal’s main asset.
Apart from metals, he went on to become stakeholder of different companies from varied sectors like financial and insurance services, manufacturing, auto components, energy, construction, agriculture and aviation.
He owns ‘Basic Element’ that he founded in 1997. It emerged as one of the largest diversified Russian industrial groups with its core assets being concentrated in 6 economic sectors namely manufacturing, energy, financial services, mining, agribusiness, airport management and construction and real estate.
Some of the major assets of ‘Basic Element’ are ‘United Company RUSAL’, ‘Ingosstrakh’, ‘Aviakor’, ‘EuroSibEnergo’, ‘GAZ Group’, ‘Basel Aero’ and ‘Kuban Agroholding’ among others. The group based in Moscow, Russia owns companies and subsidiaries spread over Russia, Australia, Asia, the CIS, Latin America, Europe and Africa having an employee count of around 250,000. Till 2001 it was called ‘Siberian Aluminium’.
He established the private charitable foundation ‘Volnoe Delo’ in 1998 that supports more than 400 initiatives in Russia with a particular focus on children and education. In 2009, it emerged as the largest Russian charity foundation. According to reports, so far Deripaska have donated over $250 million mainly for educational causes.
‘Sibirsky Aluminium’ of Deripaska and ‘Millhouse Capital’ of Roman Abramovich came to an agreement to manage jointly the alumina and aluminium assets controlled by them and in such pursuit formed a partnership in 2000 that led to the formation of Rusal.
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The ensuing years saw Rusal acquire many strategically significant assets including a 90% stake in the Russian alumina refinery, ‘Boxitogorsk’; buying 50% stake and becoming partner with ‘SUAL’ in the Komi alumina project; acquiring 20% equity interest of ‘Queensland Alumina Limited’; and increasing stake in alumina refinery ‘Nikolaev’ to 100% among others.
Deripaska represented Russia in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council (ABAC) in 2004.
He became the President and controlling shareholder of the diversified energy, mining and metals group EN+ Group that was formed in 2006. The group owns a 100% stake in the PLC power company ‘EuroSibEnergo’ and a majority stake of 48.13% in ‘United Company RUSAL’ apart from other holdings.
‘United Company RUSAL’ was formed merging Rusal with ‘Glencore International AG’ and ‘SUAL Group’ in 2007. It was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2010 marking it as the first Russian company to achieve such feat.
‘United Company RUSAL’ burgeoned with time and eventually became the biggest aluminium producer around the globe until ‘Hongqiao Group’ from China clinched the spot in 2015. Presently Deripaska serves as the President of the company that operates in 19 countries across five continents with employee strength of more than 72,000.
He received the ‘Aluminium Industry Ambassador Award’ in the Metal Bulletin Awards for Excellence in 2013 for his "great influence within the global aluminium industry and the wider market."
Many of the Olympic facilities for the 2014 Winter Olympics held in Sochi were developed by his group.
Apart from his business pursuits, Deripaska holds several imminent positions including being the Chairman of ABAC Russia since 2007. He chairs the executive board of the Russian national committee of the International Chamber of Commerce.
He serves as Vice President of the ‘Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs’ and as member of the Russian government agency ‘Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Council’.
He is board of trustees’ member of many organisations such as the School of Business Administration at St. Petersburg State University, the School of Economics at Moscow State University and the Bolshoi Theatre.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Polina Yumasheva in February 2001. She is the daughter of Russian politician, journalist and business developer, Valentin Yumashev, also known as top advisor and son-in-law of the first President of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin.
He has two children with Polina - a son, Pyotr, born in 2001, and a daughter, Maria, born in 2003.