Russia Billionaire in Coma After French Ferrari Crash
By Helene Fouquet
Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov was placed into a coma after suffering severe burns when the Ferrari he was driving crashed and burst into flames in Nice on the French Riviera on Nov. 25.
Doctors at Marseille burns hospital La Conception will wait 48 hours before deciding on a diagnosis, said a spokeswoman for the city's hospitals who declined to be identified. Severely burned patients are often placed in an artificially induced coma, the spokeswoman said today by phone. Kerimov's family asked the hospital not to disclose detailed information on his condition.
The 40-year-old businessman, worth $7.1 billion according to Forbes magazine, was speeding and weaving through traffic when he lost control of a black Ferrari Enzo on the Promenade des Anglais, the boulevard that runs along the Nice shoreline as he was speeding, said the policeman in Nice who is heading the investigation into the crash. The policeman, who spoke by telephone today, declined to be named, citing French regulations.
Kerimov lost control of the Ferrari while overtaking another car, hitting the sidewalk and then a tree before the engine caught fire, the policeman said. Traffic rules limit cars on the Promenade des Anglais to 50 kilometers (31 miles) per hour.
Investigators carried out chemical and technical tests on the wreckage of the Ferrari that allowed police to rule out the possibility the crash resulted from an assassination attempt, the policeman said.
Kerimov, who arrived in Nice on a private jet with his friend Tina Kondelaki, a Russian television presenter, was driving a Ferrari loaned to him by a friend, the policeman said.
Russian daily Kommersant printed a photograph on today's front page showing what it said was the two pieces of the burned car, surrounded by firefighting foam.
Bree Schuette, a spokeswoman for Kerimov's OAO MNPO Polymetal in St, Petersburg, said she couldn't comment on the businessman's condition.
Kerimov was transported by helicopter to La Conception in Marseille after the sports car caught fire.
The billionaire's clothes were on fire as he jumped out of the Ferrari and his face was the most severely-burned area, the policeman said, citing unidentified witnesses.
Kondelaki was admitted to a hospital in Nice shortly after the incident. She was lightly injured and left the premises quickly to head back to Russia before investigators could interview her, the policeman said.
A woman at CTC's press office declined to comment or be identified when Bloomberg called today. Kondelaki didn't answer her mobile phone when Bloomberg called.
Gazprom, Sberbank Holdings
Kerimov ranked No. 72 this year in Forbes magazine's annual survey of the world's richest people published in March. His wealth derives from stakes in OAO Gazprom, Russia's natural-gas export monopoly, and OAO Sberbank, eastern Europe's largest bank.
The businessman's OAO GNK Nafta-Moskva bought Polymetal, Russia's biggest silver miner, last year for an undisclosed price. Interfax today said the acquisition cost about $900 million.
A native of Dagestan, a republic in Russia's Caucasus region, Kerimov moved into the banking business following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Kerimov went from banking to buying assets in aviation to oil trading, according to Forbes.
Kerimov has been a member of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian federal parliament, since 1999 as a member of the Liberal Democratic party headed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a nationalist known for his controversial behavior.