|Born||Mikhail Maratovich Fridman
21 April 1964
|Net worth||$17.6 billion (2013)|
Mikhail Maratovich Fridman (Russian: Михаи́л Мара́тович Фри́дман; born 21 April 1964 in Lviv, Ukraine) is a Russian businessman of Ukrainian Jewish descent. Fridman graduated from Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys in 1986. In the 1980s, as a student, Fridman scalped theater tickets on a large scale. In 1988 Fridman started his career in trading and financial services before founding Alfa Group Consortium in 1989. Fridman sits as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Alfa Group Consortium, which is now one of Russia's largest privately owned investment groups. In 2014, Forbes assessed his wealth as $15.6 billion, making him the 2nd richest person in Russia.
Along with German Khan, Alexei Kuzmichov and several other partners, Fridman founded the Alfa Group Consortium, an investment group which today controls Alfa-Bank (opened in 1991), Alfa Capital Management, Rosvodokanal Group, AlfaStrakhovanie Group and A1 Group. Alfa Group's portfolio includes stakes in oil and gas company TNK-BP, retailer X5 Retail Group, and several telecom companies: VimpelCom Ltd. and Turkcell.
Fridman serves as Chairman of Supervisory Board of Alfa Group Consortium, Chairman of the Board of Directors of TNK-BP and as a member of the Board of Directors of ABH Holdings S.A. (holding company of Alfa-Banking Group), Supervisory Board of Directors of VimpelCom Ltd. and X5 Retail Group N.V.
Since 2005 he has been a member of the Public Chamber of Russia.
He has been an active supporter of Jewish initiatives in Russia and Europe. In 1996 Fridman was one of the founders of the Russian Jewish Congress, now sitting on the RJC Presidium. He makes large contribution to the work of the European Jewish Fund, a non-profit organization aimed at developing European Jewry and promoting tolerance and reconciliation on the continent. Fridman along with Stan Polovets and three fellow Russian Jewish billionaires, Alexander Knaster, Pyotr Aven, and German Khan, founded the Genesis Philanthropy Group whose purpose is to develop and enhance Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews worldwide.
Fridman is a member of numerous public facing bodies, including the Board of Directors of Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and National Council on Corporate Governance.
Fridman is an active supporter of the national literary award "Big Book" and a member of the board of the "Center support for native literature" focused on implementing cultural programs, promoting the ideals of humanism and respect for the values of Russian culture, supporting creative writing and book publishing in Russia.
Ratings and awards
Fridman was honored "For Creation of Successful Russian Brand" by World Brand Academy in 2006.
Fridman was included in the Financial Times list of "Leaders of the New Europe 2004".
He is one of the "Europe's Power 25" by Fortune in 2004.
2005 house privatization controversy
In July 2005, he was involved in a privatization scandal. Two luxury houses formerly owned by the government were sold in 2003 for a price significantly below market value to two companies, one of which is owned by Fridman and another by the former Russian prime-minister Mikhail Kasyanov and Kasyanov's wife Irina. Fridman has said that he wasn't surprised at the low price of the house he bought because another company held a 49-year lease for the house at the time (however, that lease was bought out very cheaply a week after the auction for the houses), and that he was not aware of the details of the sale as it was handled by his corporation's legal department. According to later allegations made by the State Duma member and journalist Aleksandr Khinshtein, Kasyanov bought the company that owns one of the houses using a loan given to him by Fridman, and that one of Fridman's companies won the government-conducted tender to manage the Sheremetyevo International Airport a week after the house's auction, allegedly with Kasyanov's involvement. Fridman has dismissed those allegations and maintains that none of his companies ever gave any loans to Kasyanov.
On 17 January 2006 the Moscow Court of Arbitration ruled that the house bought by Fridman should be returned to the state as not all the appropriate procedures were followed during the privatization. However, the court also refused to call the privatization contract legally null and void (in that case Friedman's company wouldn't even get the money it paid for the house back), so it's unlikely that the prosecutors had enough evidence of Friedman's involvement to indict him personally in the criminal court.
On 2 February 2006 the same court reached a similar ruling about the house bought by Kasyanov, that he would also have to return it.
On 1 March 2006 two government officials who were responsible for the auction, the former deputy minister of property relations of Russia, Nikolai Gusev, and the director of Federal State Unitary Enterprise "VPK-Invest" (who officially was managing the houses before the auction), Ramil Gaisin, were indicted for "appropriation of managed property committed by an organized group on a particularly large scale". They weren't arrested, however, and were set free on their own recognizance. According to the prosecution, they currently don't have enough evidence to indict Kasyanov.
Purchase of North Sea assets
In March 2015, Letter One, owned by Fridman, acquired German oil company RWE Dea for over £5 billion. RWE Dea owned 12 active oil and gas fields in the North Sea and fields elsewhere. The deal was, and continues to be, opposed by the British government, which fears it could contravene sanctions against the Russian government over the dispute in Ukraine. Letter One intends a new company to be formed to run the fields, to be headed by former British Petroleum head Lord Browne. If the oil and gas fields under UK jurisdiction were to be retained by Letter One, the UK assets of the new entity would then be supervised by a Dutch Stichting (foundation), a special purpose limited liability entity established specially for that purpose.
On 4 March 2015, the UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, gave Fridman a one-week deadline to convince the UK government not to force him to sell the newly acquired North Sea oil and gas assets.
- Sher, Gilead (6 May 2011). "The world's 50 Richest Jews: 11–20". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 14 May 2011.
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- New York Times: "Russians Join Israel to Start Jewish Prize of $1 Million" by David M. Herszenhorn June 26, 2012
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- Forbes.com: Forbes World's Richest People
- TeliaSonera initiates legal action against Russian Alfa Group 28 November 2005
- Western Operators Warned to Beware Altimo's Business Record 14 December 2005
- Shareholder dispute could drive Kyivstar into technical default 11 April 2007
- Telenor steps up fight on Altimo 'propaganda' 30 March 2007
- BP, Russian billionaires, and the Kremlin: a Power Triangle that never was 23 November 2011