The Forbes Billionaires List Has a Scent of Cyprus

by Marios Roussos
Forbes Billionaires Cyprus List

The biggest names and companies who have connected to the island

From diverse backgrounds to remarkable successes, billionaires’ stories are as fascinating as their wealth, and early in 2024, the Forbes Billionaires list presents how things have changed… upwards for most.

The list stands as a testament to the unprecedented fortunes amassed by individuals around the world. With each passing year, this exclusive index offers a glimpse into the lives of the ultra-rich, showcasing their unparalleled successes, diverse backgrounds, and remarkable journeys to prosperity.

According to the list, the number of billionaires has reached an all-time high, totaling 2,781 individuals, which is 141 more compared to 2023 and 26 more than the previous record set in 2021.

Their collective wealth has soared to $14.2 trillion, marking an increase of $2 trillion from 2023 and surpassing the previous record by $1.1 trillion, also set in 2021. Two-thirds of the billionaires have seen their wealth rise over the past year, while only one-fourth experienced a decline.

The majority of these gains are attributed to the top 20 billionaires, who collectively added $700 billion to their wealth since 2023.

The United States now boasts a record 813 billionaires with a combined net worth of $5.7 trillion, while China remains in second place with 473 billionaires (including Hong Kong) worth $1.7 trillion.

Despite challenges such as weak consumer spending and a real estate downturn leading to a loss of approximately $300 billion in wealth, China remains a significant player.

India, with 200 billionaires, also reached a record high and secured the third position.

However, there exists a notable Cypriot intrigue within the list, and as we delve deeper, we’ll uncover the wealthiest individuals worldwide who either possess a Cypriot passport or have established residency for themselves or their companies on the island.

The list

88. Vinod Adani – $23 B

Starting from the top of the list, Forbes has on number 88, Vinod Adani, the older brother of Gautam Adani, who at one juncture held the position as the world’s third wealthiest individual, possesses a significant presence within the Adani conglomerate.

Initially rooted in commodities trading, the Adani group has diversified its portfolio to include ventures in ports, airports, power generation, transmission, and renewable energy, among others. Residing abroad, Vinod Adani holds interests in various group entities through several overseas investment entities under his ownership.

Notably, in 2022, the Adani group ascended to the position of India’s second-largest cement producer following the acquisition of Swiss company Holcim’s Indian assets for $10.5 billion facilitated by Vinod’s investment enterprises. Vinod Adani holds Cypriot citizenship.

108. John Fredriksen – $16.9 B

A well-known figure who comes next on the Forbes list, with John Fredriksen. His business realm encompasses a diverse array of assets including oil tankers, dry bulkers, LNG carriers, and deepwater drilling rigs.

His journey in the oil industry traces back to the 1960s when he initiated oil trading activities in Beirut, followed by acquiring his first tankers in the 1970s and involvement in crude transportation for Iran during the 1980s. Notably, his offshore drilling rig company, Seadrill, emerged from bankruptcy in 2018, with Fredriksen actively participating in raising approximately $1 billion in fresh debt and equity.

Among his significant holdings, Marine Harvest, now known as Mowi, stands out as his largest, having consolidated various competitors to establish itself as the leading fish farming enterprise globally. Despite being positioned to pass the reins to his twin daughters, Kathrine and Cecilie, Fredriksen has expressed his desire that they not be burdened with the daily toil he has endured throughout his career.

809. Yakir Gabay – $3.9 B

Owner of the 15% of Frankfurt-listed German real estate company Aroundtown SA, Yakir Gabay he serves as deputy chairman of the advisory board.

Aroundtown possesses a vast commercial real estate portfolio in Europe valued at approximately $30 billion, including holdings in Cyprus. Additionally, Gabay holds a significant 63% ownership in Grand City Properties, which boasts a portfolio comprising approximately 63,400 apartments primarily situated in Germany and London.

Originally from Israel, Gabay previously held the position of CEO at the underwriting arm of Bank Leumi, one of Israel’s major banking institutions. He commenced his professional journey in the Prospectus Department of Israel’s Securities and Exchange Commission before transitioning into the private sector.

1143. Sergey Dmitriev – $2.9 B and 1545. Valentin Kipyatkov – $2.1 B

President and co-owner at JetBrains, Sergey Dmitriev, played a pivotal role in the establishment of the software company back in 2000. The company’s software tools have garnered widespread adoption, being utilized by over 10 million software developers and project managers globally.

Dmitriev holds the position of president within the Prague-headquartered organization. Alongside him, his partner Valentin Kipyatkov also holds billionaire status.

JetBrains was among the biggest employers of programmers in St. Petersburg. It closed all Russian business in 2022. Notably, when they renounced their Russian citizenship, Dmitriev and Kipyatkov made headlines in 2023. Presently, they hold a Cyprus passport and reside in Cyprus.

1545. Igor Makarov – $2.1 B

Igor Makarov is renowned as the founder of Itera, Russia’s pioneering independent gas enterprise. Originating from Turkmenistan, Makarov played a pivotal role in making Itera the primary gas exporter from the region during the late 1990s.

Itera’s significance further escalated when, in 2012, it formed a joint venture with Rosneft, Russia’s state-controlled oil giant. Subsequently, Rosneft acquired Itera in its entirety for a staggering $2.9 billion the following year. Makarov’s influence in the energy sector expanded when he assumed the role of energy adviser to the President of Turkmenistan in 2019.

In 2023, Makarov opted to renounce his Russian citizenship, transitioning to become a citizen of Cyprus.

2410. Vladimir Krupchak – $1.2 B

Vladimir Krupchak‘s wealth originates from his ownership stake in Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill (APPM), which stands as Russia’s leading cardboard producer and one of its major market pulp manufacturers.

Until 2022, Krupchak oversaw the Russian and Ukrainian assets of Austria’s Pulp Mill Holding. During the 2000s, he engaged in a corporate dispute with billionaire Oleg Deripaska over control of APPM. Additionally, Krupchak previously served as a member of the State Duma of Russia, the nation’s parliament.

His residence is in Cyprus and he is holder of Cyprus citizenship. His wife is a stakeholder of Titan Group, a leading company in Russia’s sawn timber market.

The Haji-Ioannou family

Among the richest people in the world, there are also the members of the Haji-Ioannou family, with the easyGroup. More specifically, the son of the late Loucas Haji-Ioannou, a Greek Cypriot shipping magnate, who once owned the world’s largest private tanker fleet, Polys Haji-Ioannou is in 2287 position with $1.3 B.

Not far away, the second son, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (No. 2410 with $1.2 B), founded the budget airline easyJet in 1995 after leaving his father’s company. Stelios owns an estimated 4% of the airline; his siblings Clelia and Polys both have large stakes as well and maintain ownership of the easy brand through his private company, easyGroup.Clelia Haji-Ioannou (No. 2545 with $1.1 B) owns approximately $240 million worth of real estate across Europe, including properties in London, Monaco and Greece. She also has a gallery outside of Athens featuring artwork by Picasso, Warhol, and Dali.

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