18:11 28.05.2018

Bulat Utemuratov: from a lecturer to the richest person in Kazakhstan

6 min read

The wealth of this person is sufficient to fully meet the demands in education, culture, medicine and other budget sectors of the Republic of Kazakhstan for a month. So says the Bloomberg publication. So, who is this man able to support the whole country on his own?

Business and politics – two in one

The first job Bulat Utemuratov has got back in 1981 was economics lecturer at the Institute of National Economy which he has just graduated from as a young specialist. A year after and later, in the course of almost a decade, Utemuratov changed many occupations and positions related to the economic and administrative activities – from a district executive committee instructor in Almaty to a high-level official of the Foreign Trade Authority of the Republic.   

It was Bulat Utemuratov who was chosen by President Nursultan Nazarbayev to head the country’s trade representative office in Austria at the critical time after the collapse of the USSR. Bulat Utemuratov’s merits during that period can be credited with the organisation of Kazakhstan’s economic partnership with such greats of the European banking as CreditSuisseGroup and UBS bank, as well as the Nestle group of companies.

The further career of Bulat Utemuratov was progressing upward only: Deputy Minister of Foreign Economic Relations of the country, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Ambassador-at-Large at the MFA and, finally, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Switzerland, Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the UN and a range of other international organizations from 1993 to 1999. Serving at these posts, Bulat Utemuratov has earned his spurs and acknowledgement from the President of the country and, having returned to his motherland, became his trusted man and aide for external policy and economy, as well as the Secretary of the Security Council of the country and served as Head of the Presidential Property Management Department. All this time Bulat Utemuratov has been an active member of the “Nur Otan” party and in the course of time went into its political council. His efforts were appraised with honourary awards of Kazakhstan – orders “First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Head of State Nursultan Nazarbayev”, “Kurmet”, “Dostyk” of the second class and medals.

There were yet many positions held, and Bulat Utemuratov, who much valued President Nazarbayev’s confidence, successfully served in all of them. But gradually his functions became more consultative, of a rather representative nature, therefore Utemuratov’s main interests moved to business. Bulat Utemuratov emphasises that he has acquired all his assets privately, in the secondary market.     

The name of Bulat Utemuratov is closely tied to the work of a whole range of big banking structures of Kazakhstan – ATF, Kassa Nova, ForteBank and others. And in 2006 Verny Capital holding company was incorporated. It finances profitable projects in various areas of activity out of private funds. The sphere of its interests includes geological exploration, gold mining, franchising and financial services, real estate construction and sales, telecommunications and a lot more. The major share of this investment giant from Astana with an over 4 billion dollars amount of business belongs to Bulat Utemuratov. The following should be noted in a long list of properties and assets of the richest entrepreneur in the Republic of Kazakhstan: premium-class hotels The Ritz-Carlton in Astana, Vienna, Moscow, the only in Kazakhstan resort hotel Rixos Borovoe, shares in mobile operating companies KarTel in Kazakhstan and Sky Mobile in Kyrgyzstan with the Beeline trademark.

Sponsorship and charity

Tennis is not just a hobby for Bulat Utemuratov, it is his passion which results in popularisation of the sports in the country, building of infrastructure and selection of the best team in the history of Kazakhstan.

Thanks to the efforts of the head of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation and member of the Board of Directors of the International Tennis federation (ITF), Bulat Utemuratov, there are now over 220 courts functioning in the country. It was his patronage for the establishment of the Team Kazakhstan Tennis Academy for the most promising young tennis players, potential members of the national team. The national team of Kazakhstan has already reached six quarterfinals of the most prestigious world tennis tournament – the Davis Cup.    

In 2014, under businessman Bulat Utemuratov’s patronage, Assyl Miras charity foundation was established which primary task was assistance to children, namely socialisation and adaptation of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  Four resource centres for children with AD were opened in the country, and over 3,700 children had diagnostics, an international conference is held annually.  Besides, the foundation also helps children with cerebral palsy. This year the philanthropist has allocated one million dollars to buy medical equipment, introduce advanced technologies, invite leading world experts and train domestic specialists for the new centre in Almaty. The good-doer has contributed 12.5 mln dollars in the foundation’s activities.

Bulat Utemuratov’s civil responsibility is not limited by these good deeds only, and the example for that is collaboration with the international humanitarian organisation Red Crescent in Kazakhstan. This spring flooding in East Kazakhstan damaged houses and property of people in rural areas. The businessman’s charity rendered very timely aid to the disabled, multi-child families and lonely elderly people.

In addition, Bulat Utemuratov’s charity foundation decided to support the community trust named after the Kazakhstani musician Batyrkhan Shukenov.

Family as the backbone

Bulat Utemuratov is a son of ordinary white collar workers who could ascend high at the account of his own efforts, fine forethought and organiser’s talent as well as favourable circumstances which he was able to use. He was born in the city of Atyrau in western Kazakhstan, finished the secondary school in Kzylorda and went to Almaty to enter a university. Having graduated from the Institute of the National Economy and having become a specialist in economics in 1981, Bulat was already married to Azhar Utemuratova, as young as himself student of the National Medical University, and had two-year old son Alidar. Later, in 1983, Anuar was born, and after twenty years more, in 2003 the Utemuratovs had one more baby – a long hoped-for daughter, Dinara. Family values are of big importance for Bulat Utemuratov.