Alisher Usmanov, the Russian billionaire who made a more than 10-fold return from his investment in Facebook Inc., said he recently spent about $100 million buying Apple Inc. shares in anticipation they will rise.
“I believe in the future of this company even after Steve Jobs,” Usmanov, 59, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Moscow offices, referring to Apple’s late co-founder. “When the company lost $100 billion of its market value, it was a good time to buy its shares, as the capitalization should rebound.”
Apple’s stock is almost 40 percent off its peak in September last year, partly reflecting investors’ concern about slowing sales and profitability at the iPhone and iPad maker and intensifying competition with Samsung Electronics Co. Usmanov, the world’s 35th wealthiest man with a fortune at $19.8 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, also made money from investments in China’s Alibaba.com Ltd. and Russian Internet company Mail.ru Group Ltd.
“Nothing is eternal,” Russia’s richest man said in the April 25 interview. He didn’t specify when he acquired the Apple shares. “But for the next three years I believe Apple is a very promising investment, especially given large dividend payments and buybacks.”
The DST Group of funds backed by Usmanov first bought Facebook shares in 2009, when the social-media network was valued at about $6.5 billion. DST sold a $1.7 billion stake during Facebook’s initial public offering last May that valued the company at about $100 billion. The disposal earned Usmanov about $1.4 billion.
Facebook shares rose 0.6 percent to $27.14 in early U.S. trading. They are still 29 percent lower than the Menlo Park, California-based company’s IPO price. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, gained 0.8 percent in early trading.
“I still believe in the high technology sector and I am also absolutely confident in the future of Facebook,” he said.
Usmanov, who this year put all the assets he and two investment partners held under USM Holdings, a limited liability company based in the British Virgin Islands, also controls OAO Metalloinvest Holding Co., Russia’s largest iron-ore producer, and the country’s second-largest wireless carrier, OAO Megafon.
“I see our investment portfolio as optimal for the time being in terms of the industries we invest in, so we are not planning to enter new sectors so far,” he said. “In the current situation, cash is king.”