11 Mar 2022

Billionaire steel magnate heads list of Russians with NZ business interests

8:08 am on 11 March 2022

Public records show a handful of wealthy Russians own $60 million worth of land and real estate in New Zealand, about 50 percent more than the prime minister previously said.

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Former Waiwera Thermal Resort owner Mikhail Khimich, left, and steel magnate Alexander Abramov are among Russians who have had business dealings in Aotearoa. Photo: Supplied / AFP

Several private businesses are also owned by these men, the values of which are unknown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday investment in New Zealand by Russian nationals was "limited: up to $40 million".

The Prime Minister's Office has since said that figure was from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which said they received it from Statistics New Zealand, which RNZ has contacted for clarity.

While investment is not markedly more than that, it appears to be over $60m, with the value of some other interests unknown, including an apartment building in Auckland.

RNZ is not saying the following people have done anything wrong, or will be sanctioned. In fact none of the following people are on the travel ban list released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This is a look at the publicly available ownership records of Russians who have assets in New Zealand.

Alexander Abramov

The steel magnate is 63 years old and worth about $6 billion. According to Bloomberg, the steel magnate's net worth has dropped 33 percent since Russia invaded Ukraine. It was over $9b earlier in the year. His major shareholding (about 20 percent) is in steel making company Evraz, which has lost around 85 percent of its value in 2022.

6481334 06.03.2021 Chairman of the Board of Directors of Evraz Group Alexander Abramov attends a meeting on the socio-economic development of the Kemerovo region -

Billionaire Alexander Abramov's wealth has dropped by about 50 percent in two weeks, Bloomberg says. Photo: AFP

Fellow high profile oligarch and the soon-to-be-former owner of Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich, owns 30 percent of Evraz.

Abramov has a massive country estate in Helena Bay, between Whangārei and the Bay of Islands. It is about 300 hectares of land, including 3 kilometres of coastline and four private beaches, according to its Trip Advisor listing.

Its Whangārei District Council rateable value is over $41m. This comprises the land, worth $4.7m, and the capital improvements, mostly the buildings, worth $36.4m.

Abramov had to go through the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to receive consent to purchase the property, because it is deemed sensitive land and he is a non-New Zealand resident.

He was granted consent to purchase, for reasons including the likelihood of job creation - the Helena Bay lodge is rentable and is staffed fulltime by locals - as well as a commitment to enhance and protect flora and fauna.

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The property in Helena Bay in Northland. Photo: Supplied

The initial purchase of 215 hectares was made in 2009, and another 88 hectares of land through a long-term lease in 2015.

In 2021, Abramov majority-funded the purchase of land in the suburb of Morningside in Auckland.

An apartment block is now under construction on the land, with 39 apartments being built.

This was through a New Zealand registered business Targa Capital Limited which has New Zealand directors but "is ultimately controlled and receives the majority of its funding from Mr Alexander Abramov of Russia", according to the OIO decision.

The purchase price of this land was redacted due to commercial sensitivity. The construction of 39 apartments will add significant improvement value. It is unknown if Abramov has a share in the building. If he does to the same degree as the land purchase, it would lift his New Zealand asset value to $55 or $60m.

Alexandre Germanovitch

Alexandre Germanovitch bought the 1197 hectare Mt Potts Station in mid-Canterbury in 2011.

It is a working high country cattle farm with a rentable lodge and mountain views of the Southern Alps.

The Ashburton District Council values it at $9.7m.

Germanovitch also owns a $3.83m home in the Auckland suburb of Devonport.

His total known assets amount to $13.5m.

Leonid Kiryakov

Leonid Kiryakov owns property in Matakana, in North Auckland, a wealthy semi-rural area near Warkworth.

He bought the property in 2016 for just under $5 million. It is now council valued at $6.7 million.

His Overseas Investment Office application was granted under the test that he intended to live here indefinitely.

Leonid Kiryakov fully owns the company Okleo Limited. That company has a 100 percent controlling stake in eight New Zealand companies.

These are: Manawatu Cold Storage Limited, Solo Plastics Limited, Galloway International Limited, SPL 2020 Limited, Promains Limited, National Springs and Wire Products NZ Limited, Technicool Refrigeration Limited, Tanks Direct Limited.

Porters ski field owners

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Porter Heights Photo: Wikipedia

Yury Zelvenskiy and three other Russians invested in part of the South Island's Porters Ski Field through PSA Capital Limited in 2011, when it was set to undergo a major development and expansion.

The expansion and development had been delayed for some years.

Two other Russian investors who had shares since 2011, Yuri Koropachinskiy and Oleg Kirillov, abruptly sold all their shares on 15 February, nine days before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Galina Slavova of Moscow owns 9 percent, and Mikhail Rudolfovich Predtechenskiy of Novosibirsk owns 5 percent.

It is not known how much the company or its assets are worth.

The largest shareholder is now the Cyprus-based Stalakton Investments Ltd with 49.94 percent.

Some readers may note that one person is missing from this list - Mikhail Khimich.

Khimich received significant publicity in 2010 and 2013 when he bought Waiwera Water, the bottling company, and Waiwera Thermal Resort, the water park on the northern outskirts of Auckland.

Mikhail Khimich hosts former Auckland Mayor John Banks on Thalia.

Former Auckland mayor John Banks with Mikhail Khimich. Photo: Supplied

He planned to undertake a large refurbishment of the thermal pools, but it never happened. The two companies fell over and were placed into liquidation.

Khimich was deemed bankrupt by the High Court at Wellington in 2019. It doesn't appear he currently has any assets in New Zealand.

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