Russian stoligarch and owner of independent gas producer Novatek Leonid Mikhelson has topped the Forbes list of country's richest with an estimated fortune of $24bn, the rating published on March 5 shows.
Notably, Mikhelson's estimated worth jumped from $18bn from last year when he closed the top 3 behind metal tycoons Vladimir Lisin (NLMK, net worth of $21.3bn this year) and Alexei Mordashov (Severstal, net worth of $20.5bn).
Mikhelson is the founder and chairman of Russia's second-largest gas producer Novatek, that is quickly expanding in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) segment in Russia and internationally.
This year the head of Russia's largest independent oil company and second-largest crude producer Lukoil Vagit Alekperov made it to the top three with a fortune of $20.5bn.
Forbes counted 98 businessmen from Russia with worth of over $1bn, down from 106 people in the previous rating. The newcomers include Said Gutseriev, the son of Mikhail Gutseriev of Safmar Group ($1.3bn net worth) and the owner of Russian online retailer Wildberries Tatyana Bakalchuk ($1bn).
The co-owner of Sibur petrochemical major Kirill Shamalov and the ex-in-law of the President Vladimir Putin left the list with (down from $1.4bn to $0.95bn). Mikhelson previously acquired a 17% stake in Sibur from Shamalov, increasing his stake to 48%.
Mikhelson's partner in both Novatek and Sibur is Gennady Timchenko, a sanctioned billionaire who is said to have close ties to President Vladimir Putin and is estimated by Forbes to be worth $19.6bn.