Usmanov, Devourer of Websites, Loves Facebook

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by Joshua Foust on 5/17/2012

Alisher Usmanov, the world’s richest libel tourist and oh yeah Uzbek-turned-Russian magnate of extractive industries, stands to profit massively from the upcoming Facebook IPO:

As other investors were demanding tough terms, he said in an interview this week, he and his Russian business associates were willing to buy almost 10 percent of the company while giving up the voting rights on those shares to Facebook’s founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg.

Now the Russian-led investments of less than $900 million, made through two entities, and Digital Sky Technologies, will be worth more than $6 billion, based on the midpoint of the $34 to $38 price range that Facebook’s bankers have set for the stock.

This makes for kind of an interesting contrast with Facebook co-founded Eduardo Saverin, who recently renounced his U.S. citizenship and stands to save over $100 million in capital gains taxes from the upcoming IPO. Doing so will, in all likelihood, mean he’ll never be allowed back into the United States.

Usmanov, as a non-US citizen, doesn’t face these constraints. Considering the many accusations about Usmanov’s shady financial dealings with Tashkent (some of which were levied by our old friend Craig Murray, which prompted a ridiculous libel suit by Usmanov’s lawyers), it’s a really striking that a probable criminal like Usmanov can travel to the U.S. freely (as best I know he doesn’t face any travel restrictions), but a non-criminal like Saverin will probably be barred from ever traveling to the U.S. again because of a tax loophole.

Oh yeah, and Usmanov also owns notable stakes in Zynga as well. So basically, he knows everything you do on Facebook and Farmville.

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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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