Eight Cypriot billionaires among world’s richest

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Eight Cypriot nationals are on Forbes’ list of The World’s Billionaires for 2023, including John Fredriksen and siblings Stelios, Polis and Clelia Hadji-Ioannou.

The World’s Billionaires is an annual ranking by documented net worth of the wealthiest, compiled and published in March by the American business magazine Forbes.

This year’s list includes five naturalised billionaires.

Norwegian-born Fredriksen, India-born Vinod Adani, Israel-born Yakir Gabay, Czech origin Sergey Dmitriev, and Russian Valentin Kipyatkov.

The richest Cypriot national on the list is Fredriksen, ranked the 130th richest person in the world, who is the owner of the world’s fourth-largest oil tanker company, Frontline.

John Fredriksen

Fredriksen, born on 10 May 1944, is a shipping billionaire businessman based in London.

He was one of the first foreign investors to obtain a Cypriot passport through his investments in 2006.

He abandoned his Norwegian nationality in favour of the Cypriot one.

Fredriksen, 78, is top of the Cyprus Rich List with a net worth estimated at $13.7 bln.

He announced the move of tanker giants Frontline to Cyprus after the company’s shareholders backed the decision of their CEO and founder to re-domicile in Limassol.

The major ship-owning company registered in Bermuda and listed on the New York Stock Exchange had initiated the transfer of its activities to Cyprus.

Through his investment companies Hemen Holdings and Meisha, Fredriksen controls Frontline and Golar LNG from his luxury home in London.

Golar LNG, the parent of Golar Energy, unsuccessfully bid for Cyprus’ LNG supply contract, which was later rejected after the government decided to award the contract to public utility EAC.

Vinod Adani

Indian-born Vinod Adani, operating out of Dubai, is the world’s 184th richest person with an estimated fortune of $9.8 bln.

Vinod Adani is the elder brother of Gautam Adani, who was once the third richest man in the world.

The Adani Group owns over 200 ports, airports, power stations, cement plants, mines, defence factories, renewable energy farms, electrical facilities, and gas distribution networks across 23 states and territories, spanning 87% of India’s landmass.

Vinod Adani, who lives abroad, has stakes in various group companies held through multiple overseas investment companies owned by him.

Adani Group became India’s second largest cement producer in 2022 after it acquired the Indian assets of Swiss company Holcim for $10.5 bln through Vinod’s investment companies.

The 74-year-old was awarded Cypriot citizenship through the investment scheme.

In late 2022, as per Hurun India Rich List, Adani was described as the richest non-resident Indian and the sixth-richest Indian overall.

In 2021, India Today named him as being listed in the Panama Papers.

Panama Papers was a giant leak of more than 11.5 mln financial and legal records exposing a system that enables crime, corruption, and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore entities.

Yakir Gabay

Cypriot Israeli businessman Yakir Gabay owns 15% of Frankfurt-listed German real estate company Aroundtown SA, of which he is deputy chair.

Aroundtown has a portfolio of commercial real estate in Europe valued at over $30 bln.

He also holds a 40% stake in Grand City Properties, which owns around 65,000 apartments in Germany and London.

Gabay was previously CEO of Bank Leumi, one of Israel’s largest banks.

He began his career at the Israel Securities Commission’s Prospectus Division before moving into the private sector.

He holds a Cypriot passport through the citizenship for investment scheme.

Sergey Dmitriev

Another naturalised investor, Russian-born Sergey Dmitriev, occupies the 1217th spot on Forbes rich list, with an estimated fortune of $2.5 bln.

He co-founded the software company JetBrains in 2000.

JetBrains tools are used by more than 10 million software developers and project managers worldwide. Dmitriev is the president of the Prague-based business.

He renounced his Russian citizenship in 2023. He has a Cypriot passport and lives in Cyprus.

Valentin Kipyatkov

Valentin Kipyatkov, 46, was Dmitriev’s partner in founding JetBrains.

Kipyatkov, also born in Russia, is the world’s 1674th richest person with an estimated fortune of $1.8 bln.

Like his partner, he holds a Cypriot passport and renounced his Russian citizenship.

JetBrain has shut down its Russian-based business following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Polys Hadji-Ioannou

The Cypriot-born businessman holds the 2405th spot on Forbes rich list, with an estimated fortune of $1.1 bln.

Polys Haji-Ioannou, 63, is the son of late Cypriot shipping magnate Loucas Haji-Ioannou (d. 2008), who once owned the world’s largest private tanker fleet.

Much of his wealth derives from a large stake in easyJet, the discount airline founded by his younger brother, Stelios.

Polys continues the family’s shipping legacy with his 15-tanker fleet.

He has also invested heavily in commercial and residential real estate, particularly in Cyprus, Greece, Monaco, and London.

Stelios Hadji-Ioannou

The Cypriot businessman is the 2540th richest person in the world, with an estimated fortune of close to $1.1 billion.

Also, the son of a Greek Cypriot shipping magnate, Stelios Haji-Ioannou founded the budget airline easyJet in 1995 after leaving his father’s company.

Stelios maintains an estimated 4% share of the airline; his siblings Clelia and Polys both have large stakes.

He maintains ownership of the easy brand through his private company, easyGroup.

Through easyGroup, Stelios has licensed the easy name to such businesses as easyHotel, easyCar and easyCoffee.

Clelia Hadji-Ioannou

Clelia Hadji-Ioannou, the sister of Polys and Stelios Hadji-Ioannou, makes the World’s Billionaires’ list with an estimated fortune of $1 bln.

She is a billionaire thanks to her stake in discount airline easyJet, founded by her brother Stelios.

Clelia, 52, owns approximately $200 mln of real estate across Europe, including properties in London, Monaco, and Greece.

She also has a gallery outside of Athens featuring artwork by Picasso, Warhol, and Dali.

Falling stocks and rising interest rates translated saw the fortunes of the world’s richest people drop.

In total, the world’s billionaires are now worth $12.2 trn, a $500 bln drop from $12.7 trn in March 2022.

Nearly half of the list is poorer than a year ago, including Elon Musk, who dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 after Twitter’s pricey acquisition helped send Tesla shares down.

Bernard Arnault, head of luxury goods giant LVMH, takes his place as the world’s richest person, marking the first time a French national has topped the rankings.

The United States still has the most billionaires, with 735 members of the list worth a combined $4.5 trn.

China (including Hong Kong and Macau) remains second, with 562 billionaires worth $2 trn, followed by India, with 169 billionaires worth $675 bln.