Born August 11, 1955 in the Kaspiysk. He graduated from the Kuibyshev Civil Engineering Institute majoring in civil engineer in 1977.
After graduating from the Institute Mikhelson worked in gas pipe line construction Urengoy - Chelyabinsk in the Tyumen region where he held the posts starting from foreman to chief engineer. In 1985 he was appointed chief engineer of the trust "Ryazantruborovodstroy”. And two years later replaced his father as head of the "Kuybyshevtruboprovodstroy”.
In 1991, "Kuybyshevtruboprovodstroy" was privatized, and then turned into a joint stock company "Samara national enterprise "Nova". Mikhelson headed it till October 1994 and then moved to the post of general director of the management company "Novafininvest", one of the assets of which was the "Nova".
"Novafininvest" began to engage in gas production. Mikhelson began buying up shares of association "Purneftegazgeologia, whichowned the license on several sites with large reserves of gas, organized the creation of several new oil and gas enterprises in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. Finally with the active assistance of Joseph Levinsohn (who moved from the post of administrator in "Purneftegazgeologia" to the post of vice-governor of the district) NovaTEK was created which in 1996 began producing oil and gas on the first of its three main fields - East Tarkosalinskoye. In 2002 the operation in theYurkharovskoye deposit began, in 2004 – in the Khancheyskoye.
Immediately after the establishment of NovaTEK, Mikhelson began to attract investors in the company capital and to organize partnerships. In the spring of 2002 an agreement was reached with the Itera by Igor Makarov in order to merge oil and gas assets, but soon the company refused the deal without explanation. Then Mikhelson planned to sell a blocking stake in NovaTEK to the French Total. However, this transaction was not approved by FAS.
As a result, Mikhelson preferred the IPO version, and in July 2005, 19% stake in NovaTEK was posted at the LSE. Investors bought shares worth about $ 1 billion, and Mikhelson, received 335 million dollars for his 6.6%. Then there was another deal - the sale of 19.99% stake in Gazprom.
Mikhelson owns about 75% shares of the large bank of Samara - OAO "First United Bank ("Pervobank"), which was founded in 2006 through the merger of the Nova Bank and the Bank “Samara credit” by Andrei Ishchuk.
Mikhelson was awarded the order of Badge of Honor.
Hobbies - volleyball. Mikhelson supports the volleyball team "Nova". He is a sponsor of the soccer team "Wings of Soviets."
He is married; has a daughter
In 2005, newspapers reported that "NovaTEK” had a risk to become another victim of Gazprom, which was trying various ways to become a gas monopolist. Then the main owners of NovaTEK were Leonid Mikhelson and Vice-Governor of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District Joseph Levinson. The latter yielded the pressure of Gazprom, and gave Alexei Miller the stake in NovaTEK. Chairman Leonid Simanovsky tried to defend NovaTEK, thanks to him NOVATEK had a strong support from the authorities in the region, including the governor oVladimir Neelov. Subsidiary of NovaTEK received a license to develop the South Russian field, but then Gazprom took it over. "Gazprom" in the fight for NovaTEK used prosecutors of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District - the shareholders of NovaTEK were charged for asset stripping and the concealment of profits. Initiation of criminal proceedings coincided with the attempt by NovaTEK to sell blocking stake to the Franco-Belgian concern Total - if the shares went to the West, Gazprom would be unable to establish control over the company. The deal with Total did not take place because the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia reversed resolution even though it had given it earlier. Subsequently, the Franco-Belgian group Total finally refused the deal with NovaTEK because of the opacity sources of the assets of the company.
Source: "Novaya Gazeta" on 04.07.2005
Leonid Mikhelson created his fortune by using contacts of his friend, vice-governor of Yamal Joseph Levinsohn in order to get licenses to gas fields, to attract new assets, clarify the relationship with large companies and evade the tax claims. A vice-president of Yukos Leonid Simanovsky provided cover for the activities of Mikhelson in the business environment.
Source: Internet resource www.compromat.ru from 23.06.2005
Newspapers wrote about woes of Leonid Mikhelson in 2005, when law enforcement officials conducted a seizure of documents in the offices of NovaTEK in Samara, Salekhard and Moscow - in connection with the filing of two civil suits by prosecutors of the Yamalo-Nenets region – for the unlawful transfer 5.6% stake in NovaTEK to VEB, belonging to the Regional Development Fund of Yamal and in order to invalidate the very establishment of the fund.
Source: Vedomosti 22.06.2005, www.polit.ru of 06.07.2005
Mikhelson’s name appeared in the media in 2005 in connection with litigation in the Stavropol region. The Cyprus company Broadwood Trading & Investments Ltd. (BTI, owns 34% shares of the company "Geoilbent"), acting in the interests of Russneft, accused the leadership of NovaTEK "of violation of its pre-emptive right to buy shares" in Geoilbent. NovaTEK was going to sell its 66% share in "Geoilbent" to the oil company LUKOIL at a lower price; LUKoil had to get approval of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) for the transaction. To reduce the chances of the second co-owner of OOO “Geoilbent" to challenge the transaction, the management of NovaTEK sold a share in a transaction that did not presupposed the direct purchase: NovaTEK introduced all the papers of the company it owned to the share capital of the oil holding company registered in Salekhard; its owner became a subsidiary structure of LUKOIL. The newspapers said that Mikhelson only maintained a fa?ade of tender in order to get unaccounted additional payments by "cold cash" money from the heads of corporations. There were different versions of why Mikhelson needed money, for instance: to support Mikhail Kasyanov and his future political party, for the divorce process of Mikhelson, or to reduce the traditional portion of his companions Levinzon and Simanovsky.
Source: "Kommersant" № 113 from 23.06.2005
The sold shares of Geoilbent were pledged by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) where NovaTEK took the credit in the late 90's. The bank learned about their sale from the newspapers. Since the sale of the pledge violated the conditions of the loan agreement, the Bank froze all regular loans for NovaTEK and stated that they were going to conduct detailed audits in the company, and in case of problems they would turn to International Arbitration.
Source: www.bigness.ru from 01.07.2005
Since December 2003 Leonid Mikhelson has stopped been the owner of controlling stake in NovaTEK. Prior to that Mikhelson had owned controlling shares in the Cyprus SWGI Growth Fund and the Russian ZAO "Levit", which are the direct owners of NovaTEK. In December 2003, the share of Leonid Mikhelson in "Levit" got reduced to the level less than 50%, and so he ceased to be the controlling shareholder of NovaTEK.
Source: "Kommersant" № 113 (3197) on 23.06.2005
In 2005, the newspapers wrote about the financial machinations in NovaTEK, mentioning the names of the companions of Mikhelson - Leonid Simanovsky and Joseph Levinzon. They said that in official statements Levinson assessed reserves of gas fields "Yurharovneftegaza" within the 9 billion cubic meters. When the subsidiaries of Gazprom refused the Yurkharovskoye field, and it came under the control of OAO NovaTEK, it became clear that those reserves were about a trillion cubic meters. Levinzon was accused that he had been actively manipulating by access of the mining companies to the most profitable deposits in terms of mining in favor of NovaTEK. For example, the transfer of "Purneftegazgeologia» to NovaTEK was followed by erosion of 30%-equity of the subsidiary of Gazprom – Zapsibgazprom, as well as by the mysterious loss of significant part of investments.
Source: Internet resource www.compromat.ru from 03.06.2005
In November 2003, the Gazprom’s company “Vermann", headed by Fedor Khoroshilov, made a decision in favor of Gazprom in the Supreme Arbitration Court, which overturned the additional issue of shares of AO “Purneftegazgeologia” (PNGG), a subsidiary of Leonid Mikhelson’s NovaTEK. Cancellation of the additional issue allowed the minority shareholder of PNGG - Zapsibgazprom, a subsidiary of Gazprom, to claim a significant interest in the company, which has licenses for a number of fields.
Source: "New news" from 15.03.2004
In 2005 Leonid Mikhelson, together with the son of St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko Sergey Matvienko established OOO "Brend" in the Samara region. One of the projects of the newly created company was the prospect evaluation survey in YaNAO - Oil and Gas Company (OGC) "Gorny" (in which "Brend" had 27,5% of shares) led the prospect evaluation survey in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District (YaNAO) on Voerg- Missyursk site. In 2005, the license for this site, was received, so by 2012, it was necessary to open and register resources (those were the terms of the license), which required 300-400 million rubles per year. OGC began looking for investors and it was only Mikhelson who agreed to work on the terms of OGC. Mikhelson did not invite the son of Valentina Matvienko to investment for some unknown reason. At that time, it was still unclear for what purpose Mikhelson needed that site - its resources did not exceed 10-20 million tones of oil equivalent, the degree of proficiency was very low, and the conditions of production - heavy.
Source: Vedomosti 28.04.2008
Some media accused Leonid Mikhelson of staging the scandal around the construction of the palace at Istra, which allegedly belonged to the head of Gazprom Alexei Miller. The press hinted that Mikhelson was trying different ways to get on the board of directors of Gazprom, therefore, he organized collection of compromising on Miller. In particular, panoramic photos of the palace on the banks of the river Istra near Moscow were taken from helicopter, and 32 acres of the palace complex. Information campaign against Miller coincided with the dates of the next meeting of the shareholders of Gazprom. The aim was to discredit Miller by the fact that during economic crisis in the country he could afford to spend money of the public Gazprom to personal luxury. According to journalists, thus Mikhelson implemented his plans on joining the board of directors of Gazprom.
Source: rospres from 27.07.2009
At the same time the press rumored that due to special relations with Gazprom, Leonid Mikhelson could accrue lucrative contracts for gas with consumers. In addition, NovaTEK received almost exclusive right to sell gas condensate, while Gazprom itself could have traded these raw materials abroad and would have had large incomes. Nevertheless, currently NovaTEK uses gas condensate - except for a small volume of condensate that Gazprom exports to Europe. Journalists wrote that the fact of Gazprom's neglect to gas condensate market may suggest the presence in the corruption actions by its managers.
Source: rospres from 27.07.2009
Mikhelson’s company NovaTEK appeared in a case initiated in 2005 for money thefts from “Mezhregiongaz”, a subsidiary of Gazprom. Defendants in the criminal case were six people. Ministry of Interior in absentia indicted Deputy Director General of “Mezhregiongaz” Igor Dmitriev, the director of the Department of NovaTEK Lyadov Alexander (died in 2007), Galina Sheremet, Ms. Gulyayeva (former CEO and chief accountant of "Trastinvestgaz, TIG), Dmitry Novikov (CEO of TIG ), as well as some Mr. Kataev posing as general director of OOO "Investment Agency "Intellekt i pravo”. They were accused of abusing power and causing property damage.
Source: "Gazeta" on 30.03.2009
They wrote that Mikhelson managed to keep his business just because he gave up a share in NovaTEK to the friend of Vladimir Putin - Gennady Timchenko. The fund Volga Resources owned by the latter brought its stake in NovaTEK to 18.2% of shares (Timchenko purchased 13,13% of shares from the company Cartagena Development Inc), and now his package exceeds the share of the company's management. It was an exchange of assets - Timchenko sold 51% stake in Yamal LNG at a price cheaper than the market to the ompany by Mikhelson and thus increased his stake in NovaTEK. Leonid Mikhelson had to include Timchenko into the board of directors of the company. According to analysts, the deal established strategic state control over NovaTEK.
Source: "Kommersant" № 94 (4149) on 28.05.2009, № 93 (4148) from 27.05.2009
NovaTEK falsified minutes of the general meeting in OOO “Geoilbent” and thus kept buying oil extracted by OOO “Geoilbent” at half price of the market. Then the same oil was exported by OAO “NOVATEK” at market prices. This resulted in significantly reduced revenue, possible dividends of participants and perspectives of their payment. NovaTEK redistributed profits of OOO “Geoilbent" in its favor and in favor of third parties.
Source: Kommersant № 120 from 02.07.2005
Leonid Mikhelson’s name was mentioned in the media in connection with the construction of the sports and fitness complex scandal (journalists call the new object a state residence), conducted in the city of Anapa, the Krasnodar Krai – on the protected Utrish area. Fund of the regional non-profit projects "Dar" (controlled by Leonid Mikhelson) acted as an official initiator of the construction - The Fund took on lease the land and concluded a contract for the construction with OOO "Harvinter”. Public began sounding off about the destruction of unique nature and accusing the Presidential Property Management Department of Medvedev. According to journalists, in that case Mikhelson and his Fund were kind of players on whom the people were to discharge its anger, as well as the source of financing for the presidential project.
Source: "Living Kuban" on 18/01/2010
Newspapers wrote about the interest of the Mikhelson in the project of development of the Coast of the Gulf of Finland within the framework of boundaries extending of St. Petersburg. They talked that the company "Severo-Zapad Invest" was going to take part in tender; in September 2009 it already won an auction for the right to lease the coastal land area of 140 hectares from Lisiy Nos to Sestroretsk area. The Gulf Coast cost OOO " Severo-Zapad Invest " 36 million rubles. "Severo-Zapad Invest" is 70% owned by OOO "Levit», which major block of shares belongs to Leonid Mikhelson.
Source: Newspaper of 17.11.2009
Gennady Timchenko recently began to consolidate his stake in NovaTEK, while a team of NovaTEK managers headed by Leonid Mikhelson is losing its ground. Two subsidiaries of the Luxembourg Fund Volga Resources, which principal owner is Gennady Timchenko, claimed more than 20% stake in NovaTEK. Leonid Mikhelson is slackening: after the consolidation of more than 20% of NovaTEK, Volga can collect 24.99% of shares. The official share of Volga is 5.07%. But in May 2009, the Fund agreed to purchase another 13.13% from Cartagena Development Inc., which is controlled by management of NovaTEK - the deal has not been closed yet. Meanwhile, the block of shares of Leonid Mikhelson consists of 0.47% of personal share and 5.7% share through OOO “Levit” controlled by Mikhelson.
At the same time in December 2009, the structures of Peter Kolbin (acting in the interests of Timchenko) acquired 25.1% of OAO “Yamal LNG”. Gazprombank sold the shares to Kolbin at a very low price. Several years before NovaTEK had acquired the share of Yamal LNG several times more expensive.
Source: www.fedpress.ru on 21.12.09
Mikhelson’s name was mentioned as possible acquirer of the palace of Count Kushelev-Bezborodko on the Kutuzov embankment. Officially, the palace was acquired by OOO “Tsertum-invest” - a partner of “Tashir” and Gazprombank, co-owner of the Blagovoshensky Valve Plant. This company belongs to 29-year old Philip Polyansky; its specialty is financial intermediation. Until 2008 Polyansky had been leading the Fund of the regional non-profit projects “DAR”, controlled by Leonid Mikhelson.
Source: Vedomosti 26.02.2010
OAO “Gazprom” continues buying up aggressively NovaTEK shares in the market. Gennady Timchenko also works in tandem with Gazprom; their mutual aim is not just strengthening of state control over NovaTEK, but a complete subordination of the company to the state. In particular, the eldest son of the president of Rosneft Alexey Bogdanchikov comes for work in NovaTEK in order to establish control over the company.
Source: www.uralpolit.ru from 27.02. 2010, "Kommersant» № 31 / C (4331) on 24.02.2010
The struggle for the chairs of the heads of ministries in KhMAO (Khanty-Mansiisk autonomous district)-Yugra has intensified because of the new governor. Such an agio is inflated by the structures and officials close to the Leonid Mikhelson and the company NovaTEK. All the manipulations for the development of the conflict and compromising leaking to the media occur by direct participation of the leader of “United Russia” in Khanty-Mansiysk Alexander Sidorov.
Source: UralPolit.Ru on 27.02.10