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Business Leader of the Week: Meet Andrey Melnichenko, Russia’s fertiliser & coal ace

IFM_Andrey Melnichenko
In 2022 Forbes and Bloomberg estimated Andrey Melnichenko's net worth at USD 15.8 billion and USD 17.4 billion respectively, which makes him one of the richest persons in Russia

EuroChem, one of the top producers of mineral fertilisers worldwide handles every step of the manufacturing process, from raw material extraction and mining to production, distribution, and logistics. With production sites across Europe, Russia, and North America, EuroChem, which has its headquarters in Zug, Switzerland, is a major player in the global market.

The company supplies fertilisers with phosphate, potash, and nitrogen to meet global agricultural needs. EuroChem consistently invests in research and development to increase efficiency and lessen the environmental impact of its operations, with a focus on sustainable practices and technological innovation.

On the other hand, one of the biggest coal and energy companies in the world, SUEK (Siberian Coal Energy Company) mainly serves the Russian market. Since its founding in 2001, SUEK has expanded quickly, becoming a major force in the world coal market. The whole coal supply chain is covered by the company’s activities, from extraction and processing to sales and transportation. SUEK produces high-quality thermal and metallurgical coal for both domestic and foreign markets through several mines it operates throughout Siberia.

SUEK has also made investments in power generation and electricity sales as part of its expansion into the energy industry. Devoted to sustainability, SUEK places a high priority on environmental stewardship and safety in its operations, employing cutting-edge techniques and technologies to reduce its environmental impact and safeguard the welfare of its workers and the communities it serves.

In addition to maintaining its position as a leader in the global coal and energy industry, SUEK hopes to help develop sustainable energy solutions for the future through strategic partnerships and continuous improvement initiatives.

The brain behind these successful ventures is Andrey Melnichenko, a Russian-Emirati billionaire entrepreneur and founder of fertiliser producer EuroChem Group and coal producer SUEK.

    Who is Andrey Melnichenko?

  • Born in Gomel, Byelorussian SSR on March 8 1972, Andrey Melnichenko attended the Advanced Education and Science Centre of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, and in 1989, became a student of the Faculty of Physics at Moscow State University
  • He then transferred to the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, from which he graduated in finance
  • Andrey Melnichenko began his entrepreneurial ventures by opening a currency exchange booth on the campus, while at the university
  • Having made their first USD 50,000 through a chain of currency exchange booths, he and his partners (two like-minded fellow students), received a banking license from the Bank of Russia
  • Andrey Melnichenko co-founded MDM Bank at the age of 21 in 1993, which later expanded its operations to include buying currency at the interbank foreign exchange, developing a derivatives market, and issuing debt instruments
  • In 1997, he acquired all shares of MDM Bank from his partners, assuming the role of sole shareholder and chairman of the management board, and during the 1998 Russian financial crisis, MDM emerged relatively unscathed owing to its conservative credit policies, absence of illiquid assets, and lack of exposure to government bonds
  • Between 2001 and 2005, Andrey Melnichenko chaired MDM Bank’s board of directors, overseeing its recognition as “Bank of the Year” by The Banker in 2001, as well as being named “Best Russian Bank” by Euromoney in 2003 and by Global Finance in 2004
  • In 2000, he, together with Sergei Popov, a former metals trader from Ural, co-founded the MDM Group for industrial investments in three areas: pipeline manufacturing, coal production and processing, and the production and processing of fertilisers
  • The move was pulled off through the acquisition of more than 50 independently run and owned businesses, along with joint-stock companies, plants and mines, which enabled Andrey Melnichenko to form three separate companies: SUEK, EuroChem and TMK
  • From 2004 to 2007, he sold shares of MDM Bank to his MDM Group partner Sergei Popov, and focused on the development of industrial assets in fertilisers and coal
  • In 2022 Forbes and Bloomberg estimated Andrey Melnichenko’s net worth at USD 15.8 billion and USD 17.4 billion respectively, which makes him one of the richest persons in Russia
  • In the 2023 ranking, for the first time, he took first place among Russian billionaires with a fortune of USD 25.2 billion
  • In the last fifteen years, Andrey Melnichenko’s companies have invested more than USD 23 billion in Russia’s new economy and industrial sector, according to media reports

Andrey Melnichenko Launches Appeal Against Canadian Sanctions

Meanwhile, Andrey Melnichenko is pressing Ottawa to remove his name from the sanctions that the Canadian government imposed. The Canadian government imposed sanctions on Andrey Melnichenko and his spouse, Aleksandra, almost a year ago.

He appealed to the Federal Court once, in March 2023, and once more in February 2024. His prior lawsuit was partially successful.

Ottawa took his wife off the Canadian sanctions list in 2023 November. Like many other Western nations, Canada imposed sanctions on hundreds of people and businesses in Russia and its close ally Belarus in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Ottawa singled out Andrey Melnichenko and his spouse last year for sanctions, joining a broad coalition of over a hundred targets.

At the time, Ottawa said that the group continued to carry out Russian President Vladimir Putin’s orders and was made up of “parliamentarians and officials, their family members, the oligarchs, and the businesses that fund them.”

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