Family of Bulat Utemuratov: from Cinema to Burger King

Last autumn, Kazakh Bulat Utemuratov turned 60. He is the head of a large family. He and his wife Azhar have been married for 40 years, they are parents of two talented sons – Alidar and Anuar, and a lovely daughter Dinara, and have now three granddaughters. Utemuratov’s family is well known and respected in the country. For five running years, starting from 2012, he has been headlining the list of the most influential businessmen of the country according to Forbes Kazakhstan. And the most reputable publication of the financial world, Bloomberg, believes Utemuratov to be the first among the richest Kazakhstanis, with his 3.3 bln dollars of wealth as for 2018.

Head of the family

It is hard to say in one word what is the area of Bulat Utemuratov’s activities. He used to be a diplomat, politician, public figure, banker, prominent industrialist and philanthropist.  Wikipedia refers to him as the head of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation and the member of the Board of Directors of the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

His name in Kazakh is Bulat Zhamitovich Utemuratov. Not much is known about the entrepreneur’s parents – they were modest, hard-working people. Bulat Utemuratov was born in Atyrau on 13 November 1957, studied in a common secondary school in Kzylorda. Graduated from the Almaty Institute of the National Economy and immediately upon graduation, from 1981, even lectured there for a while. With his education as an economist, he is a skillful businessman in his calling. Workmates and business partners always noted exceptional organiser’s talents of Bulat Utemuratov. It is this feature that helped him to make a meteoric career.

From 1982 to 1992, Utemuratov worked in various positions in the trade infrastructure of Almaty and in executive bodies of the Republic’s capital. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, at an economically hard time for Kazakhstan, Utemuratov excelled through establishing international trade partnership with the European markets on President Nazarbayev’s instruction.

First in Austria, as the Director of the Trade House of Kazakhstan, Utemuratov established bilateral economic relations that allowed Kazakhstan to obtain a credit line from Bank Creditanstalt in Vienna. Then he headed the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Switzerland and the Kazakh Delegation to the UN. Thanks to his skills in building connections, Utemuratov managed to arrange a visiting session of the Davos Club in Almaty.

Currently, Utemuratov has a share in the large investment company Verny Capital which manages tens of enterprises in various sectors of economy – from ore mining industry to retail trade. He is the owner of the financial and banking group and the co-owner of the big network operator KarTel in his country and of Sky Mobile in Kyrgyzstan. Bulat Utemuratov is actively engaged in the sports sponsorship and public activities. He is widely known in Kazakhstan as a generous good-doer, philanthropist and founder of a charity covering a wide spectrum of social assistance. Bulat Utemuratov was rewarded for his services to his home country with several orders and medals of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The happy marriage of Utemuratov started in 1978 and soon he will celebrate the 40th, “ruby”, anniversary of his family life. His wife, Azhar Abzhamiyevna Utemuratova, is a doctor, and studied at the National Medical University of Kazakhstan. Currently, she supervises a family psychological center in Almaty. Despite their own billions, the family does not show off with splashy luxury but lives relatively modestly. They have traditional Kazakh values and minimum publicity. The Utemuratovs believe that their true wealth is children.

Alidar Utemuratov 

39 year old Alidar (born in 1979) is a passionate and creative character. He goes his own way in life not repeating the way of his father, Bulat Utemuratov. Alidar’s first education is Oriental Studies. He studied the Chinese linguistic and cultural heritage in Beijing, later studied marcoeconomics in London and political economy in Loughborough (United Kingdom). Simultaneously with his studies founded the Thuraya company. This is a distributor representative office of the global international business in Kazakhstan promoting IT and automation technologies for various sectors.  

From October 2006 through June 2012 Alidar headed the Vasilkovsky Mining and Processing Plant (MPP). A unique gold extraction production was built and launched under his management for just a little bit more than a year and a half.  This project became one of the first projects implemented within the State Programme of Intensive Industrial and Innovation Development for 2010-2014. As a result, the gold production has increased 18 times – from 0.5 ton of gold a year in 2006 up to 9 tons in 2012.  

At present, Alidar Utemuratov is a shareholder in several international firms - TNS Plus in the IT sector and the Israeli operating company Cellwize.

But his main creation, DAR brand, develops digital technologies in his home country. Alidar understands well that this market is in its embryonic state in the country, and one cannot expect fast profits here, but money for him is just a tool. He promotes, trains and raises to the international standards only his own cadre, not involving technical experts from abroad. And the DAR’s products are also intended for the Kazakhstani customers. These are the DAR Bazar platform similar to AliExpress, business programme applications Dar Vis, Logistic, Business, game app Dar Play and training app Dar Lab.

Feature films are Alidar Utemuratov’s passion. And here he holds his own – it is the national cinema that he wants to promote at the international level. Alidar has already been the producer of several movies of the national production: “Robbery Kazakh-Style”, “Ladies on Instagram” and musical “Sisitay”. A special interest among his producer works is raised by a biopic “Amre” about Amre Kashaubayev, a rough diamond of the Kazakh steppes who shined at the beginning of the 20th century at the Paris stage and befriended with  the jazz patriarch John Gershwin but was almost unknown in the wide spread of his own country. The premiere of this movie in Kazakhstan took place in April 2018.

The eldest son of Bulat Utemuratov is married, happy in his marriage and is bringing up three daughters.

Anuar Utemuratov

The younger son of Bulat Utemuratov was born in 1983. Of all the representatives of the Utemuratov family, Anuar is the most informal in lifestyle, having started his career with JP Morgan. He does not like business suits of prestigious brands, preferring a free and comfortable casual style. Anuar manages a wide network of fast food restaurants Burger King in Kazakhstan and studies the experience of foreign colleagues in this field, working closely with suppliers from the Netherlands, Poland and other countries. Anuar strives to dispel the myth about the harm of this type of food, and being a strong supporter of a healthy lifestyle carefully selects only producers of quality products with appropriate certificates for the partnership. At the insistence of Anuar, the Burger King Kazakhstan network significantly expanded the salad menu and stopped using oil for meat frying.

The emergence of competitors in the local market and the economic decline is not a challenge for Anuar Utemuratov. For him, this is an incentive for further development, a good motivation to improve the corporate culture of the company and the professional level of its personnel, to improve customer service.

Kazakhstan's Burger King, run by Anuar Utemuratov, came to the country in 2012. More than 85 countries of the world promote this brand, and such extensive achievements made it possible to quickly develop a national network of 36 fast-food restaurants with a turnover of several tens of millions of dollars. The plans are to expand further to 50 restaurants and to polish up the menu.

In addition to managing the fast-food business, Anuar is a member of the Board of Directors of Fortebank. As of the beginning of 2018, ForteBank is among the five largest banks in terms of assets and top-3 in terms of capitalisation and liquidity in Kazakhstan.

Dinara Utemuratova

The third child of Bulat and Azhar Utemuratov – daughter Dinara, the darling of her parents. She is under 15, but she has also already made a name for herself at the international level. Her single “Wildest Memories” rocketed to the top lines of the European musical charts in May 2018. One can expect that very soon the name of Kazakhstani singer DinaRa will be widely known far beyond the borders of her country.

By Amir Omarov

30 May 2018 20:20