Russia's Second-Richest Man Faces $7 Billion Claim In Divorce Court

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Dec 08, 2021 - 07:20 PM

Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, pretty much every prominent hedge fund managers in the past 5 years, and now Vladimir Potanin, Russia’s second-richest man, confirm that the best investment someone - presumably a woman, but in these gender fluid times anything goes - can make in this bizarro world is a stinking rich (soon to be ex) husband.

According to Bloomberg, Potanin is facing one of the world’s biggest divorce claims after Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates: his ex-wife, Natalia Potanina, is seeking 50% of the value of his stake in MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC, outlining the maximum amount at a London court hearing Tuesday. That amount could exceed $7 billion, given that Potanin owns around one-third of the shares in the metal producer.

Vladimir Putin, left, and Vladimir Potanin at an ice hockey friendly match in Red Square

Potanin is fighting the case after Potanina overturned a lower court that accused her of “divorce tourism” a term loosely popularized by the 2003 George Clooney movie Intolerable Cruelty. Potanin is still waiting to hear whether the U.K. Supreme Court will consider an appeal, Judge Nicholas Francis said.

Potanina made London her permanent home in 2017

Senior judges recently gave Natalia Potanina, his ex-wife, the green light to pursue the 60-year-old through the English courts – despite the fact the Russian courts divorced them seven years ago.

According to Bloomberg, London’s divorce courts have been a popular destination for high-value legal fights, with judges typically prepared to order a more equal share of a couple’s assets. In the U.K., the largest publicly known payout in a divorce is currently 450 million pounds ($631 million) to the wife of billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov - though the two settled with a payment of less than one-third of that amount.

Potanina said that in addition to the Norilsk stock, she would be prepared to accept 50% of all dividends on the shares from 2014. Her former husband has collected some 487.3 billion rubles ($6.6 billion) in dividends since then and has a net worth of $29.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Potanina is also seeking half of the value of an expensive Russian property known as the Autumn House.

Potanina said she received around $40 million following Russian divorce proceedings while Potanin said she ended up with $84 million -- a sum that by English standards is a “paltry award” given his wealth and the length of their 31-year-marriage, a judge said in a previous decision.

Another Russian billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev, was the subject of a high-profile divorce that unfolded over six jurisdictions and resulted in years of acrimony. In 2014, a Swiss judge awarded his ex-wife, Elena Rybolovleva, $4.5 billion, though a subsequent ruling slashed the amount to just over $600 million.

However, nobody struck ex-husband gold quite like MacKenzie Scott - the former Mrs Jeff Bezos had a net worth of $62.2 billion, thanks to her 4% stake in Amazon, which she received as part of her divorce settlement. Scott is the third-wealthiest woman in the United States, and the 21st-wealthiest individual in the world.