Russia has a lot of rich people. According to estimates from the French multinational professional services and business consulting corporation, Capgemini, at least 189,500 ultra-high net worth individuals control over $1.1T in Russia. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index lists 26 Russians who rank among the world’s 500 wealthiest people, to the tune of some $271B. And, according to multiple Russian experts, thousands and thousands more people who “on-the-books” earn less than $1,500/month control billions and billions of dollars more.
How and where have Russia’s richest spent their wealth? Primarily on real estate properties located in London, Paris, New York City and other international cities until President Vladimir Putin “asked” that his country’s wealthiest bring their assets back to Russia.
Vesper, Russia’s largest property developer in Moscow, is seeing an uptick in demand for luxury properties as the country’s wealthiest face both internal and external barriers to investing abroad. In addition to Putin’s declared “preferences” for at-home investment, British anti-money laundering measures block many Russian nationals from buying in once favored London. External international sanctions imposed for the country’s annexation of Crimea, the poisoning of former spy and his daughter in England and the meddling in US elections in 2016 are also keeping Russian wealth at home.
Vesper builds some new projects but primarily focuses on massive renovations of Czar-era properties in prime Moscow locations. In the last three years alone, Vesper has created more than 1.1M square feet of new residential space awash with amenities such as ornate and secure lobbies, underground garages, gyms, saunas and pools. Its properties are priced approximately -10% lower than similar properties in New York City.
Vesper expects its revenue to grow at an approximate rate of +15% in 2019 due to limited supply and increasingly tight local construction regulations and rules. Vesper’s buyers tend to come from information technology, agriculture and pharmaceuticals.