Mikhail Fridman

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Not to be confused with Michael Freedman.
Mikhail Fridman
Mikhail Fridman by Anton Nossik.JPG
Born Mikhail Maratovich Fridman
(1964-04-21) 21 April 1964 (age 51)
Lviv, Ukraine, USSR
Nationality Russian and Israeli
Ethnicity Jewish[1]
Occupation International businessman
Net worth US$15.1 billion (June 2015)[2]
Children 2[2]

Mikhail Maratovich Fridman (Russian: Михаи́л Мара́тович Фри́дман; born 21 April 1964) is a Russian businessman of Ukrainian Jewish descent.

Early life[edit]

He was born and brought up in Lvov, Ukraine, and graduated from school there in 1980, where he won school olympiads in physics and mathematics.[3] Fridman graduated from the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys in 1986. [4]


In 1988 Fridman began his entrepreneurial activities by establishing “Courier” a window cleaning service, with a group of friends from University where he employed students from different universities, providing them with the opportunity to earn extra income.

Together with several partners he founded Alfa Group in 1989. Fridman sits as chairman of the supervisory board of Alfa Group, one of Russia's largest privately-held investment groups. In 2014, Forbes assessed his net worth at US$15.6 billion, making him the second richest person in Russia.[2]

Mikhail Fridman is chairman of the L1 Group, headquartered in Luxembourg. He is a member of the supervisory board of DEA Deutsche Erdoel AG, Hamburg, bought by L1 Energy in 2015.[5]

Business activities[edit]

Along with German Khan, Alexei Kuzmichov and several other partners, Fridman founded Alfa Group, an investment group which today controls Alfa-Bank (Russia's largest private bank), Alfa Capital Management, Rosvodokanal Group, AlfaStrakhovanie Group and A1 Group.

Fridman is founder and chairman of the LetterOne Group, headquartered in Luxembourg, an international investment business focused on the telecoms, technology and energy sectors.[6]

L1 launched L1 Energy, its new global oil and gas company, in the US at New York’s Neue Galerie in May 2015. L1 Energy’s stated ambition is to build a new world-class global oil and gas company. It will do this through acquiring and then developing a portfolio of two or three regionally focussed platforms around the world.[7]

Public activities[edit]

Since 2005, Fridman has been a Russian representative on the International Advisory Board of the Council of Foreign Relations.[8]

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 elsewhere in 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.[9] 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 Jews worldwide.[10][11] Every year the Genesis Prize recognises a Laureate who has attained excellence and international renown in his or her field, and whose actions and achievements embody the character of the Jewish people through commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community.[12]

At the first annual genesis prize giving in Jerusalem in 2014 Fridman, co-founder of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, told the audience that the Genesis Prize is intended to inspire the next generation of Jews with the example of the Laureate’s outstanding professional achievement, contributions to humanity and commitment to Jewish values.[13]

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.[14]

Honours and awards[edit]

Fridman was honored "For Creation of Successful Russian Brand" by World Brand Academy in 2006.[15]

The annual GQ Man of the Year National Award, organized by the GQ magazine, named Fridman as Businessman of the Year for 2006.[16]

Fridman was included in the Financial Times list of "Leaders of the New Europe 2004". He was one of the "Europe's Power 25" by Fortune in 2004.

In 2003, Fridman was honored with the Golden Plate Award of the International Academy of Achievement in Washington, presented by former US President Bill Clinton.

2005 house privatization controversy[edit]

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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19]

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.[20]

Purchase of North Sea assets[edit]

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.[21] 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.[22]

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.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sher, Gilead (6 May 2011). "The world's 50 Richest Jews: 11–20". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Mikhail Fridman Forbes Profile". Forbes. March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Mikhail Fridman". The Moscow Times. 
  4. ^ "Mikhail Fridman Success Story". Success Story. 
  5. ^ "Dea - New Dea". DEA Group. Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  6. ^ "LetterOne". Letterone.lu. Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  7. ^ Terry Macalister. "Ex-BP boss aims to build major energy industry player from scratch | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  8. ^ "Membership - Council on Foreign Relations". Cfr.org. 2015-08-18. Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  9. ^ "The world's 50 Richest Jews: 1-10 - Jewish World - Jerusalem Post". Jpost.com. Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  10. ^ The New York Times: "Russians Join Israel to Start Jewish Prize of $1 Million" by David M. Herszenhorn June 26, 2012
  11. ^ "Ceremony Marking the Cooperation between Yad Vashem and the Genesis Philanthrophy Group". Yad Vashem. Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  12. ^ "‘IMAGINE’ design competition for Genesis Prize statuette announced". 
  13. ^ "The Genesis Prize: Reflecting on Jewishness". 
  14. ^ "Национальная литературная премия «Большая книга»: О центре". Bigbook.ru. Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  15. ^ "Brands of Russia". Brand-academy.ru. Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  16. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ "Новости NEWSru.com :: Михаила Фридмана допросили в Генпрокуратуре по делу о госдачах". Newsru.com. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  18. ^ "Ъ – Михаил Фридман лишился дачи по-хорошему". Kommersant.ru. 18 January 2006. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  19. ^ "В России: У Касьянова отобрали дачу "Сосновка-1"". Lenta.ru. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  20. ^ "Новости NEWSru.com :: Предъявлены первые обвинения по делу о продаже элитных дач Касьянову и Фридману". Newsru.com. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  21. ^ Russian oligarch buys North Sea oil and gas assets. BBC News, 2 March 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  22. ^ "UK fails to stop RWE Dea North Sea oil sale to Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman". Caitlin Morrison, City A.M., 2 March 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  23. ^ "Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman given North Sea deadline". BBC News. 4 March 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 

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