He had to give up his American ambitions. Photo: Bloomberg.
From a mechanic in a coal mine, Vladimir Lisin became the 5th richest man in Russia, with a personal fortune of US $ 5.2 billion, according to Forbes.
2009 was a terrible year for Vladimir Lisin. On the one hand, he was the Russian billionaire who lost the most money in the space of a few months due to the recession, some 11.2 billion US dollars, the title of his conglomerate Novolipetsk Metal having lost. three quarters of its value. On the other hand, he finally preferred to give up the acquisition of the American John Maneely, for 3.5 billion US dollars, even if it means paying him damages of 530 million US dollars.
Yet the acquisition of John Maneely represented the peak of the spectacular career of this self-made man, who began working as a mechanic in a coal mine, then as a metal worker, in the Soviet era. The operation represented the most important merger in the world of steel in 2008. It would have enabled Novolipetsk Metal to reach a turnover of 14 billion US dollars, thanks to the 3 billion of John Maneely. Above all, the Russian would have got his hands on 11 factories, he who has only two on the North American continent through a joint venture with the Swiss Duferco.
Vladimir Lisin’s career took off when the boss of his factory was appointed Minister of Metallurgy in 1991, who brought him with him to Moscow. In 1992, he was thus able to join the senior management of the Russian group Trans-World, which quickly dominated the aluminum and steel export market. His role then consisted of supervising the operation of the group’s factories.
In 2000, Trans-World’s senior management decided to go their separate ways to take a new path in business. For his part, Vladimir Lisin obtained majority shares – some speak of 90% of the shares – in the Russian steel giant Novolipetsk Metal, better known in Russia by the acronym NLMK.
In the years that followed, steel turned into gold for the Russian conglomerate, so much so that it diversified and strengthened at the same time. For example, Novolipetsk became the owner in 2004 of the commercial port of St. Petersburg, for an amount never disclosed, in order to control the transport of its products exported abroad.
Like other oligarchs in the same period, Vladimir Lisin took advantage of his new personal wealth to make his wildest dreams come true. In 2005, he would have bought a sumptuous castle in Scotland for 15 million dollars, blowing the sale to a compatriot expatriate in England, Roman Abramovich, by offering the seller 1.5 million more than the asking price. President of the Russian Olympic Shooting Association, Lisin is said to shoot wild geese and deer there on his 3,300-acre land rich in forests and winding valleys of rivers full of fish.