Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.
(photo credit: TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS)
Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire businessman and owner of the soccer team Chelsea FC, immigrated to Israel on Monday, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Abramovich’s decision to immigrate to Israel came amid a wave of reports in the British press that his work visa in Britain had expired, prompting him to move to Israel.
But sources close to Abramovich rejected the reports and told the Post
that he had been planning to make aliya for a long time and finally made his dream come true on Monday.
“He is very committed to Israel,” a source close to him told the Post. “He has family ties there and has invested in business and has charitable contributions and this has been in the back of his mind for a while, to formalize his ties with the country.”
Abramovich landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday morning, met with Interior Ministry officials and received his Israeli ID card.
The source said reports that Abramovich’s UK visa request was denied were false and that he had been living in the UK under a special investor visa.
“He has not been denied a visa and it has not been canceled,” the source said. “There has not been formal action.
The only thing that has happened is that the visa has been delayed. The understanding is that there were changes to the visa process and that the request is being viewed now as a new application.”
The Jewish billionaire, originally from Russia, is building a mansion in Tel Aviv’s Neve Tzedek neighborhood.
According to Forbes, Abramovich, at the age of 51, retains a net value of $9.1 billion and was ranked as the 139th richest person in the world and 12th richest person in Russia in 2017.
Abramovich’s business ventures include Millhouse Capital, Evraz (a coal and steel mining company) and Norenickel (a nickel and palladium mining and smelting company). He acquired Chelsea FC in 2003, and has had many milestones of success since, including a 2012 victory in the Champions League.
Over the years, he has been a frequent visitor to Israel and a philanthropist to causes in Israel and Jewish communities throughout Russia.
He recently received a special award from the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia for his contributions of more than $500m. over the past 20 years to Jewish causes in Israel and Russia.
Among the known donations Abramovich has made in Israel are the approximately $60m. he has given to various advanced medical ventures at the Sheba Medical Center, including the establishment of a new nuclear medicine center. In addition, he contributed $30m. to the establishment of an innovative new nanotechnology center at Tel Aviv University.
In recent months, Chelsea FC led the campaign, “Say no to antisemitism,” spearheaded by Abramovich as a means to raise awareness and counter bigotry aimed at Jews.
He has invested in a widerange of Israeli companies, including Storedot, which developed flash battery technology based on bio-organic nanodots; Anyclip, a video content platform; Driveway, a smartphone- and cloud-based telematics solution for the monitoring and improving of driving; and Spot IM, a new machine-learning based social commenting platform.