Russian Oligarchs

Roman Rotenberg: Russian Entrepreneur, Gazprombank Vice-President and Ice Hockey Executive

Roman Rotenberg, a member of a highly powerful and prosperous Russian family, has established a notable reputation for himself not only within the financial sphere but also in the domain of sports, with a special focus on hockey. Roman, who was born on April 7, 1981, in St. Petersburg, experienced an early introduction to sports under the guidance of his father, Boris Rotenberg.

This early exposure laid the foundation for a diverse professional journey encompassing entrepreneurship, sports management, and a brief venture into coaching. This biographical account explores the life and accomplishments of Roman Rotenberg, charting his trajectory from an adolescent captivated by the sport of hockey to a renowned individual within the realms of Russian sports and commerce.

Early Life and Education

Early Life of Roman Rotenberg
Early Life of Roman Rotenberg

Roman’s childhood was characterized by a significant focus on athletics, influenced by his father, Boris Rotenberg, an accomplished judo practitioner and instructor, as well as his mother, Irina Haranen, who was employed in the field of commerce. Roman’s life was further influenced by the relocation of his family to Helsinki in 1991, facilitated by a repatriation program. Although Roman was initially introduced to judo at a young age, his true passion and dedication were ultimately directed towards hockey, which would come to shape a significant portion of his life.

Roman’s scholastic career commenced in Leningrad when he enrolled at School No. 204, renowned for its distinctive emphasis on the Finnish language. The language basis showed its worth upon the family’s relocation to Helsinki. Roman pursued further schooling in Finland and ultimately acquired citizenship. The period he spent in Helsinki not only cultivated his passion for hockey but also established the foundation for his future pursuits.

Sporting Aspirations

Roman’s entry into the world of sports was carefully handled by his father figure, who supported him in getting involved in judo instruction at the tender age of five. Nevertheless, it was the sport of hockey that genuinely piqued Roman’s curiosity, prompting him to commence his involvement in the game at the tender age of eleven.
Roman aspired to pursue a professional hockey career, with the encouragement and backing of his family, particularly his father. After completing his secondary education, he proceeded to enroll in a specialized institution for sports education to pursue a career as a professional athlete.

The Early Years

Journey of Roman Rotenberg
Journey of Roman Rotenberg

From Leningrad to London

Roman Rotenberg, who was born in Leningrad in 1981, originates from the most affluent family in Russia. The individual’s father, Boris Rotenberg, possessed expertise in judo and served as an instructor in self-defence at the police school. Conversely, the individual’s mother, Irina Kharanen, had ancestral ties to Finland.

At the age of 11, Roman’s family relocated to Finland, where he cultivated a fervent interest in hockey in addition to his judo training. Despite initially harbouring aspirations of becoming a professional hockey player, Rotenberg subsequently redirected his focus and embarked on a path of higher study, namely in the field of entrepreneurial management, at the European Business School located in London.

From Gazprom to KHL: A Strategic Journey

Kontinental Hockey League
Kontinental Hockey League

In 2007, Gazprom Export CEO Alexander Medvedev began developing the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) plan. He created KHL Marketing to manage the league’s commercial contracts. In 2008, Roman Rotenberg became deputy general director of the company. In 2009, he became an adviser to the Chairman of the Board of Gazprombank. There, he “attracted large customers” as he assumed the responsibility of overseeing the league’s commercial agreements.

Wealth and Choices: The Rotenberg Family’s Influence

Arkady Rotenberg is Roman’s uncle
Arkady Rotenberg is Roman’s uncle

The Rotenberg family had a significant increase in their wealth, propelling them to become the wealthiest family in Russia. According to Forbes’ calculations, their net worth reached an estimated $5.45 billion in the year 2020. Despite the available prospects inside the family enterprise, Roman made their own decision, ultimately opting to pursue a career at SMP Bank.

In 2011, Gennady Timchenko, president of the SKA hockey club, invited Roman Rotenberg to the position of Vice President of Marketing for the club.

Contributions to Russian Hockey

Renowned for his aptitude in securing financial support for the sport of hockey, Rotenberg demonstrated exceptional proficiency in his position at SKA. In addition to his involvement with the team, he held the role of the inaugural vice-president of the Russian Hockey Federation in 2014. 

This appointment entailed the responsibility of procuring supplementary financial resources for the sport and establishing novel partnerships. The individual’s scope of duties was broadened to encompass the coordination of interactions between the Federation and the KHL.

A Coach in the Making

In 2019, Rotenberg successfully completed his studies at the Higher School of Coaches of the Omsk SibGUFKA, demonstrating his strong commitment to the sport and his desire to further engage in coaching activities.

Taking the Helm at SKA St. Petersburg

Head coach at SKA
Head coach at SKA

Rotenberg’s declaration to assume the role of head coach at SKA St. Petersburg elicited a combination of astonishment and anticipation. Given Rotenberg’s proactive participation from the sidelines, frequent issuance of instructions, and propensity for instigating alterations during matches, it appeared highly probable that his transition into coaching was all but certain.

There is speculation among observers that this choice may be a strategic response to the devastating defeat experienced by the national team. It is believed that Rotenberg intends to regain his standing and demonstrate his coaching abilities by leading SKA.

Transition to Business and Education

Parent’s Divorce in 1999

Roman’s life saw a significant change in trajectory following his parents’ divorce in 1999, resulting in his relocation to St. Petersburg alongside his father. Irina, acknowledging the significance of education, successfully convinced Roman to undertake academic pursuits in the capital city of England. The decision made by Roman was of significant importance, since he chose to further his education in the field of International Entrepreneurship at a prestigious university in London, ultimately achieving a master’s degree.

With the possession of a diploma, familial ties, and a sharp intellect, Roman emerged as a youthful oligarch. In 2005, the individual in question made the decision to return to Russia and became a member of Gazprom Export, a subsidiary of Gazprom, based on the guidance provided by his father. Roman’s strategic and professional decisions served as the catalyst for his upward trajectory in the realm of business.

Involvement in Sports

Roman’s commercial pursuits have consistently been closely associated with his fervour for sports. The individual established a company called Doctor Sports specializing in the production of sports nutrition products for domestic use and then engaged in the fields of sports marketing and provision of athletic equipment.

The founders of the company were KHL and SMP Bank, owned by Arkady Rotenberg and Boris Rotenberg. Initially, Doctor Sport was supposed to supply sports nutrition to the KHL clubs. However, the company’s retail network turned out to be unprofitable.

Moreover, he obtained possession of the Hartwall Arena, a stadium located in Finland.

Vast Business Empire of Roman Rotenberg

Doctor Sport: A Foray into Sports Nutrition

In the fall of 2010, the vision of Alexander Medvedev materialized with the establishment of Doctor Sport, a sports nutrition company. SMP Bank backed the venture with a substantial $20 million budget for the first three years. The primary goal was clear: to provide top-quality, doping-free nutrition for athletes. Drawing inspiration from the successful business model of American giant GNC, Doctor Sport quickly gained traction.

Roman Rotenberg, who was tasked with exploring import substitutions for the KHL, proudly announced that the company achieved operating breakeven within a year. By July 2015, Doctor Sport boasted over 50 stores, solidifying its position as a major player in Russia’s sports nutrition market. However, as consumer preferences shifted towards online platforms, the company faced a decline in revenue, leading to its eventual sale by SMP Bank in September 2018.

Telesport

In December 2014, Roman Rotenberg sought to acquire 80% of Telesport, a prominent sports marketing agency. The deal, estimated to be worth billions of rubles, encountered obstacles, with serious disagreements between Telesport and the Russian Football Union emerging as the primary roadblock. By October 2016, Rotenberg and a group of investors had withdrawn from the deal, marking a strategic shift in business direction.

Rossport: Diversifying into Sports Uniforms

In July 2015, Roman Rotenberg set his sights on Rossport Sewing and Printing Production LLC, a manufacturer of sports uniforms and paraphernalia. The valuation of the proposed deal, which included Rossport’s factories in Kostroma and Dedovsk, was approximately 60 million rubles. Despite its potential, the overarching business was estimated to be worth 75–80 million rubles. The move showcased Rotenberg’s commitment to diversifying his business interests.

Sportconcept Holding

The founder of the Sportconcept holding, Roman Rotenberg, orchestrated a comprehensive approach to sports business. The holding company specializes in sports marketing, distribution of sports goods, management and design of sports complexes, and the supply of equipment for sports arenas. With a focus on both retail and wholesale sales of sports products, Sportconcept became a formidable player in the industry. A group of investors subsequently acquired the holding, further signaling its recognized value.

Business in Finland

In the summer of 2013, Roman Rotenberg, along with the Rotenberg family and Gennady Timchenko, acquired 100% of Arena Events OY, a Finnish holding that owns and operates the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki. The strategic move was followed by the purchase of a 49% stake in the Jokerit hockey team, which transitioned to the KHL in the 2014–2015 season. Långvik Capital owns 49.5% of the shares of Hartwall Arena, while Roman Rotenberg personally owns 1% and Gennady Timchenko’s White Anchor owns the remaining 49.5%.

Roman Rotenberg‘s business empire is a testament to his entrepreneurial acumen and strategic vision, spanning diverse sectors within the sports industry. From sports nutrition and marketing to manufacturing and international ventures, Rotenberg has left an indelible mark on the business landscape.

Personal Life and Relationships

Marta Berzkalna is Roman Rotenberg's Ex-Wife
Marta Berzkalna is Roman Rotenberg’s Ex-Wife

In 2010, he gained significant media attention due to his union with Marta Berzkalna, a prominent Latvian fashion model. The union, which culminated in the arrival of offspring, encountered difficulties, ultimately leading to the dissolution of the relationship between the two individuals. Roman, meanwhile, exhibited a conscientious and nurturing demeanour in his capacity as a paternal figure.

Rotenberg with Galina Keda
Rotenberg with Galina Keda

Shortly thereafter, Roman engaged in a civil union with Galina Keda, a model, and the couple subsequently celebrated the birth of their daughter, Arina, in 2013, and their son, Roman, in 2015. It is worth mentioning that Roman is also the father of Robert, who was born in the same significant year of 2015 by another model, Margarita Banet. The offspring of the entrepreneur are adequately supplied for and lack no material necessities, much like their respective mothers.

Connections in the Social Media Sphere

The businessman was acknowledged for his association with Karolina Sevastyanova, a renowned figure in the realm of rhythmic gymnastics, known for her captivating allure. Nevertheless, throughout the conversation, the girl clarified that her relationship with Roman was purely platonic, devoid of any romantic involvement between the two individuals.

Alina Zagitova, a prominent figure skater with a history of participation in SKA events and documented appearances alongside Rotenberg in media photographs, characterizes her association with the entrepreneur as exceptionally amicable.

Sports Management and Leadership

Roman’s profound affiliation with hockey transcended his sphere. Since 2015, he has held a position as a member of the Board of Directors for the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). In the year 2011, he assumed the position of vice president for the St. Petersburg SKA hockey team, consolidating his involvement in the realm of hockey. The team’s success was attributed to Roman’s strategic vision and adept development of marketing techniques.

His participation in the 2014 domestic hockey federation demonstrated his dedication to the wider context of Russian hockey. The significant impact of Roman’s contributions in determining the future of hockey, both at the club and national level, has become increasingly apparent.

Achievements and Recognition

In 2018, Roman’s notable achievements in Russian sports were formally acknowledged through the bestowal of the Order of Friendship. This prestigious recognition was granted in light of his key involvement in the effective coaching and preparation of participants for the XXIII Olympic Winter Games held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The aforementioned accolade served as a testament to his unwavering commitment towards fostering the growth of sportsmen and advancing the prominence of Russian sports within the global arena.

SKA Presidency and Olympic Success

Presidency of SKA
Presidency of SKA

In a significant development, Roman Rotenberg assumed the presidency of SKA, a position he currently occupies. Under the guidance of his leadership, SKA achieved notable accomplishments, culminating in their victory in the Gagarin Cup during the 2014-2015 season. The influence of Roman grew, leading him to assume crucial responsibilities concerning team composition and the coaching staff.

Roman’s impact on Russian hockey was confirmed with the attainment of a gold medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics, marking the pinnacle of his accomplishment. Despite encountering various hurdles and receiving criticism, including the team’s lack of success in the 2021 World Cup, Roman exhibited unwavering determination.

Transition to Coaching

Roman’s career underwent a notable transformation when he decided to venture into coaching, culminating in the acquisition of a diploma from the esteemed Higher School of Coaches at the Omsk Siberian State University of Physical Culture in May 2019.

The event signified a turning point in Roman’s switch from a corporate executive position to a judicial role. His participation in coaching assumed significant importance, particularly in light of the head coach’s incapacitation due to illness.

The decision made by Roman to assume the role of head coach for SKA was welcomed with a combination of curiosity and doubt. The individual’s choice to assume complete accountability for the team’s performance demonstrated their resolve to uphold authority and manage potential obstacles.

Criminal Activities

Sanctions Evasion and Asset Transfer

Roman Rotenberg, the offspring and relatives of Boris and Arkady Rotenberg, individuals who have been included in the list of sanctioned individuals by both the United States and the European Union, has successfully circumvented the European Union’s sanctions by virtue of his possession of British citizenship. This particular status additionally enabled Roman to arrange the transfer of European assets possessed by the Rotenberg brothers to himself.

In October 2014, Roman Rotenberg bought a portion of Boris and Arkady Rotenberg’s interests in Langvik Capital. This conglomerate comprises a range of European properties owned by the Rotenberg family, which include the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, a share in the Jokerit hockey team, and a hotel and meeting hall located in close proximity to Helsinki.

In the year 2015, the Foreign Asset Control Department of the United States Treasury detected a total of 11 individuals and 15 legal entities who were under suspicion of circumventing prevailing sanctions. Following this, the agency decided to broaden its list of sanctions to encompass Roman Rotenberg and Langvik Capital as a direct response to these accusations.

Summary

Currently, Roman persists in maneuvering over the intricate terrain of Russian hockey. Despite facing criticism and encountering hurdles, he maintains a steadfast belief in his own capabilities and exhibits no indication of deceleration.

The trajectory of his development, starting from an early passion for hockey and culminating in his emergence as a renowned individual in the realms of sports and business, not only demonstrates his personal resolve but also signifies his dedication to fostering the advancement and triumph of Russian sports on an international level.

In summary, the life of Roman Rotenberg serves as a witness to the complex dynamics that exist among family, business, and sports. The narrative of his experiences showcases his ability to overcome adversity, demonstrate strategic foresight, and maintain an unwavering commitment to achieving exceptional outcomes across multiple fields. As Roman exerts his influence on the development of Russian hockey, his legacy emerges as a complex story encompassing both personal and professional achievements.

Alexander Harris

Alexander Harris began his career as a journalist. He is one of the founders of the " Russian Oligarchs Tracker Unit ".

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