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Jewish Hall Of Fame: Mikhail Prokhorov

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At 49, the renowned entrepreneur, politician and Brooklyn Nets owner is one of the wealthiest men in the world

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: August 27th, 2014 in Business » World

Mikhail ProkhorovSince the dawn of time, Jewish people have contributed greatly to various fields, from sports to entertainment to politics to porn. With our Breakthrough Jew feature, we recognize those who are up and comers in these various industries, identifying those great innovators and leaders in the contemporary world who are making a mark on society that will last a lifetime.

With the Jewish Hall of Fame, we recognize the remarkable advancements members of our community have made on today’s society. These are people who have truly changed the world, and have earned the respect and praise of the members of today’s younger generation.

ShalomLife’s Jewish Hall of Fame is our ongoing tribute to the greatest Jews who have ever lived; be sure to catch us weekly with our latest inductees, and tweet us @ShalomLife with your suggestions.

Check out last week’s inductee into the Hall of Fame here.

Hall of Fame Member: Mikhail Prokhorov
Born: May 3rd, 1965, in Moscow, Russia.

Born on May 3rd, 1965, in Moscow Russia, Mikhail Prokhorov would one day go from being upper middle class in a Russian Jewish household, to the Brooklyn Nets owning billionaire that he is today. Born to Dimitri and Tamara Prokhorov, a lawyer and a materials engineer respectively, Prokhorov was raised alongside his older sister Irina. His father traveled abroad frequently for work, however his mother stayed fairly close to home during her career.

Sadly, his parents would die within a year of each other from heart disease. Prokhorov would eventually end up living with his sister and her child in a shared apartment while he attended school. He graduated from the Moscow Finance Institute in 1989, and began working for the International Bank For Economic Cooperation in a management position. He remained with the company until 1992.

During this time, he was introduced to Vladimir Potanin by a friend from school. Upon leaving the International Bank For Economic Cooperation, Prokhorov and Potanin decided the pair up and go into business together. They joined forced to run Interros, a holding company that would prove useful to them in acquiring Norilsk Nickel.

In 1993, Prokhorov was named chairman of the board for Potanin’s Onexim Bank, which became involved with the government and government dealings. By 1995 they were given federal responsibility to deal with bankrupt companies and handle loans-for-shares auctions. Their handling of failing companies allowed both men to purchase shares of Norilsk Nickel, one of the largest nickel smelting and mining companies in Russia, for next to nothing.

In 1998, Prokhorov was further promoted to President as well as Chairman of the Board at Onexim Bank, but left the position and soon after, in 2001, accepted the role as chairman of the board and general director of Norilsk Nickel. During his time with the company, Prokhorov sold off the company’s less lucrative non-mining assets and put a heavy focus on reducing air pollution caused during the mining process. He also worked to develop the company’s mining strategy. In 2007, however, Prokhorov resigned from the company, then CEO, and sold his shares for an estimated $7.5 billion.

In 2010, having made some choice investments after his departure from Norilsk Nickel, Prokhorov became the primary owner of the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclay’s Centre (the team’s arena). In doing so, he became the first non-North American team owner in the National Basketball Association and, due to his stature (he stands at 6’8″) also the tallest. With that height, he should be playing basketball, not watching it.

Prokhorov is also currently involved in politics, having campaigned against Vladimir Putin in the 2012 elections and surprised the country by getting an unexpected almost 10% of the votes.

As of 2014, according to Forbes, he’s currently worth an estimated $10.5 billion.