When most of us get divorced, we run the risk of losing the family home, the car, and perhaps the dog. When billionaires get divorced, they run the risk of losing assets equal to that of a small nation. Such is the case with Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin, the second-richest man in all of Mother Russia. His divorce settlement has the potential to rival that of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, as his former wife is seeking 50% of his stake in the massive company MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC. Judging by the metal producer’s total worth and Potanin’s 33% stake in the company, this divorce settlement could easily exceed $7 billion.
Vladimir’s ex-wife is none other than Natalia Potanina, the same woman who was recently accused of “divorce tourism” by a lower court. However, Natalia successfully overturned this decision and is now fighting to have her case heard by the UK Supreme Court. As of this writing, she is waiting to see whether the Supreme Court will consider her appeal.
Natalia is pursuing 50% of all Norilsk stock held by her former husband, plus 50% of all dividends from the shares that were paid out since 2014. This amounts to about $7 billion. Vladimir himself reportedly has a net worth of just under $30 billion, so this settlement would not bankrupt him. Finally, Natalia wants 50% of the value of one of Vladimir’s prized properties known as the “Autumn House.”
It is worth mentioning that Potanina already received $40 million immediately after the divorce, and she ultimately ended up with $84 million when all was said and done. While this might be more than enough to satisfy the average divorcee, Potanina believes that the sum is essentially a slap in the face, as it is a drop in the vast ocean of Vladimir’s total wealth. She also argued that she should be entitled to more since the marriage lasted 31 years.
Is Divorce Tourism Common in the UK?
Potanina is not pursuing her divorce through UK courts by mere coincidence. These courts have a reputation for being extremely generous toward dependent spouses, and they have awarded vast amounts to those in Natalia’s shoes before. The largest divorce payout in UK history was $631 million, which was awarded to another wife of a billionaire. When you compare that sum to Natalia’s $84 million, it seems reasonable to believe that she could receive close to 10 times her current settlement if she continues to fight in court successfully.
It is also worth noting that her initial settlement of $84 million would be considered quite low by UK standards. Again, this has to do with the fact that Vladimir is a billionaire, and the settlement amount is nowhere near 50% of his wealth. We also need to take into account the fact that the marriage lasted over 30 years, which is a considerable length of time by any standard. That being said, it seems as though the UK is starting to crack down on so-called “divorce tourism,” as the lower court decision clearly did not go Potanina’s way.