Being among the wealthiest people in your country must feel great. To achieve the same in a foreign country has to be even better. But doing so together with your brother while also independently making the list — that is something unique. Two Russian brothers achieved that in Hungary and this is how they did it.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the economy of its former countries and naturally that of Russia crashed completely. In these circumstances, the country needed profit as soon as possible, for which the fastest and easiest way was selling gas, in which Russia is abundant. Gazprom, the Russian majority state-owned multinational energy corporation was thus founded in 1989. As export became more and more significant, Gazprom needed local delegates outside the country representing their interests.
Medget Rahimkulov arrived in Hungary as an executive and delegate of the company. He was also the former head of Panrusgas, a businessman who quickly became a millionaire bank owner and returned to Moscow a little over ten years later as the wealthiest person living in Hungary.
He became chief executive and 10% owner of a joint venture between Gazprom and Hungarian oil and gas concern Mol. Furthermore, he proceeded to head ÁÉB, a Hungarian bank that was first bought by Gazprom, then later used by Medget in 2007 to acquire shares in Mol and OTP, Hungary’s largest bank. Despite not residing in the little Central-European country since around 2007/2008, his wealth accumulated after the regime change still has significant impacts on the Hungarian economy. His successors, two of his three sons, carry on his legacy.
Timur and Ruslan Rahimkulov occupy the 4th and 7th positions on Forbes’ list of wealthiest Hungarians.
Although they have both been living in Hungary for almost 25 years and have been present on the economic scene, this year is the first time they are featured on the list. The reason for being included only now is simply because so far all their wealth was registered under their father’s name. (Who is, by the way, still included on Forbes’ international list, standing as #1851 with a net worth of 1.4 billion dollars as of 15 February 2020.) Now that Rahimkulov senior does not live in Hungary anymore, he can not be featured on the list. Forbes only mentions the wealthiest Hungarians and not in general anyone residing in Hungary (as Népszabadság used to do, making it possible for Medget Rahimkulov to take the lead).
How can his sons be included then, you might ask. That is simple, they went to university in the country and more importantly, they are both citizens. They took over their father’s Hungarian businesses when he returned to Russia.
Their portfolio is quite widespread with an enormous worth, making their combined wealth much higher than that of Lőrinc Mészáros, the wealthiest Hungarian.
The most important company of the Rahimkulov empire is, without a doubt, their trustee Kafijat Zrt., divided equally between the brothers. The company has been one of the most significant shareholders of OTP Bank for years; only Mol proceeds them in terms of share possession. The same Mol in which Kafijat Zrt. is also a major shareholder.
In other words, the Rahimkulov brothers are one of the biggest owners of Hungary’s two most prominent companies, OTP and Mol.
This would put them among the biggest heavyweights. Still, this is not the total wealth of Kafijat, and thus that of the brothers. The company has very broad interests in several sectors. For instance, Kafijat is not the only trustee under both of their names. Furthermore, they possess properties worth millions of forints, for instance, the former headquarters of ÁÉB, the previously mentioned huge bank acquired by their father in 1996. All these make up
their wealth of more than 540 billion forints (over 1.5 billion euros) at the end of 2019, making their combined wealth higher than that of Lőrinc Mészáros and Sándor Csányi,
chief executive officer of OTP Bank Group. However, this is only their combined fortune apart from which they both control billions or even tens of billions of forints separately.
As of course, they do not conduct all of their businesses together, they both have their separate companies and interests. The younger brother, Ruslan, is much more active in business. Last year in Autumn, he bought a property close to lake Balaton with his business partner to reform it as a hotel and enter the tourism sector, but already at the beginning of 2020, he bought three hotels. These hotels are all gathered under another of his companies, possessing other properties such as a whole office building or Symbol event venue in Budapest. The latter is linked to a network of cultural organisations that received billions of forints of governmental support but crashed little after the money tap was closed.
The newest business Ruslan is interested in is the building of Europe’s biggest intermodal terminal close to the Hungarian-Ukrainian border, an interface combining different transport modes. The investment is crucial to facilitate continental transport of commerce between China and Europe. The biggest investor in the project is a logistical company of which 50% belongs to Ruslan Rahimkulov, who is also the president of the board. Read more here: The largest intermodal railway terminal in Europe is being built on the New Silk Road in Hungary – VIDEO