Russian billionaire pays out to the proles

One of the richest men in Russia, oligarch Oleg Deripaska, has decided to distribute his £2m bonus among his best workers.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

Given the ostentatious displays of wealth by Russian oligarchs such as Roman Abramovich (who has three of the largest private yachts in the world), a bit of recognition for the little guy is not normally what you’d expect.

Oleg Deripaska is the chief executive of Rusal, the world’s biggest producer of aluminium: according to Forbes he’s worth around £5.6bn. So it’s not that surprising he isn’t too bothered about giving away the £2m bonus he earned from the company last year.

But instead of pocketing it or buying a new boat, he's putting the cash into a fund to buy shares in Rusal, which will then be awarded to 120 of the best factory workers throughout his company. That means each of them would receive an average of £16,600 in shares, although because it is not being split equally, some will get  more.

As The Times wryly pointed out, Deripaska is not unlike other Russian businessmen in that he's practically on first name terms with President Putin. Incidentally, his wife is Polina Yumasheva, a relative of Boris Yeltsin. Quite a network.

Nonetheless, a nice little act of humility there. But it is worth noting that his company is considering cutting 1,700 jobs this year alone because of the crashing aluminium price - so the handout could just be an attempt to mitigate the inevitable period of misery when the redundancies start...

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