Mikhail Prokhorov, Russian Presidential Hopeful and NBA Owner

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Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov speaks during a news conference in Moscow December 12, 2011. Prokhorov announced on Monday his intention to run for president during the March 2012 election.

The first thing you must know about Mikhail Prokhorov? As a Russian energy billionaire, he has a bit of cash on hand. Prokhorov initially entered the world stage in 2010 by becoming the first foreign owner of an NBA franchise (the New Jersey Nets, which he is moving to Brooklyn next year) and went mainstream on Monday by announcing his bid for the Russian office of president, taking on Vladimir Putin.

(MORE: Is Mikhail Prokhorov the Best Opponent Putin Could Hope For?)

Fast Facts:

  • Born in 1965 (age 46), Prokhorov is from Moscow. His father worked as head of the International Relations Department of the Soviet State Sports Committee and his mother did scientific research work at the Moscow Chemical Materials Institute. Mikhail has an elder sister, Irina.
  • Prokhorov graduated magna cum laude from the International Economic Relations Department of the Moscow Financial Institute in 1992.
  • He became president and chairman of the board for ONEXIM Bank in 1998 and general director and chairman of the board of MMC Norilsk Nickel in 2001.
  • According to Forbes, he is the third richest person in Russia, worth almost $18 billion. He is listed #32 on Forbes’ worldwide list.
  • He founded the Cultural Initiatives Charitable Foundation to “modernize and stimulate the cultural and intellectual environment in the Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia” in 2004.
  • Prokhorov purchased the New Jersey Nets in 2010.
  • He became the head of the pro-business political party “Right Cause” with close ties to the Kremlin in June 2011 and then stepped down from party he created in September saying it was the “Kremlin’s puppet project.”
  • On Dec. 12, Prokhorov announced his independent candidacy for Russian president.
  • A well-known bachelor, Prokhorov spends plenty of time skiing and living an active lifestyle, that is when he isn’t making billions in banking and natural resource management or running an NBA franchise.

(LIST: Top 10 Richest Owners of U.S. Sports Teams)

Quotes by:

“Russian businessmen need to recognize that they have responsibilities on their side of the relationship. They have to create efficient business, pay taxes and provide high salaries. They also need to help people advance in the social sphere.”

“The biggest risk in business around the world is the risk of being ineffective. If you can’t work under these conditions then don’t get involved. I am an aggressive businessman, and want the businesses in which I invest to grow many times in value. I take big risks, but because I work at a large scale, the opportunities for growth are also great.”

“My love of skiing, basketball and track athletics is no secret. I find that exercise keeps me sharp and focused. And I want to share that feeling and the health benefits with the people in my life, in my business, and in the communities in which I work. I sponsor athletic events for adults and children in the Norilsk region, and am an avid supporter of all of the Moscow teams.”

All taken from Prokhorov’s personal website.

Quotes about:

“This is nothing but a crafty deception, as they once again resorted to the same old trick aimed at splitting our ranks.” — Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader (via Los Angeles Times).

“The Kremlin needs Prokhorov to legitimize elections. The stylish oligarch will certainly make the campaign landscape appear much livelier. At the same time, poor Russian people hate glamour, and for many Prokhorov is an object of resentment.” — Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin political expert (via Los Angeles Times).

“There appears to be some level of agreement between Prokhorov and the Kremlin, but no one is sure what it’s about. But why shouldn’t Prokhorov go into politics? He’s not married. He has no serious prospects of winning. He will make things a bit more interesting by diluting the company of old men.” — political sociologist Olga Kryshtanovskaya, the leading expert on Russia’s ruling elite (via Global Post).

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