Mikhail Fridman strategy : amasses a fortune as he takes the long term view and keeps out of politics.
/By Michael Carstens Lim /
Mikhail Maratovich (Misha) Fridman is a heavy-set and intensely private oligarch. In 2012, Forbes assessed his wealth at $13.4 billion, making him the 6th richest man in Russia.
Fridman was born on April 1964, to a Jewish family in Lviv, Ukraine. His middle class parents belonged to the Communist Party and worked as engineers in the defense manufacturing industry. In 1986, he graduated with honors from the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys while cleaning windows to make a living.
Fridman currently serves as the chairman of the board of directors of the Alfa Group Consortium, chairman of the board of directors of Alfa Bank, and chairman of the board of directors of energy firm TNK-BP.
Fridman prefers to keep a low profile in terms of his business, politics and personal life. That does not, however, translate into an unassuming life style. He has any number of palatial homes across the former Soviet Union, with his Moscow flat alone believed to exceed 4, 000 square meters.
Public sightings of Fridman typically occur at one of Moscow’s jazz clubs, which he frequents. His more notable hobbies and interests include European culture gun? and art collecting, in which he displays a penchant for extremely expensive art, such as pieces by Picasso.
Fridman maintains his own security group for himself and his fellow Alfa executives that in many ways acts like a small police force. Yet despite his wealth and fame, he seems to believe that his low profile has ensured his personal safety. This drive to protect his family is carried over into all of his business dealings (no member of his family is employed in his business ventures). His ex- wife and two young daughters live in Paris, where he visits on weekends.
In broad terms, Russia’s leading businessmen can be divided into two categories: tacticians and strategists. Men like Vladimir Potanin, Roman Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky are part of the first category. The tacticians exploit any advantage they think will benefit them in the short term. Fridman and the strategists are different. For them, the goal is not short-term maximization, but long-term growth of their assets to sell later at a higher price.
Fridman considers himself a Jew first and a Russian second and he played a part in Russia’s economic meltdown during the 1990s.
Fridman’s business acumen developed specifically from his grandmother. She owned a kitchenware shop in Lviv, Ukraine, where he grew up. Her business advice was simple: “Never have dealings with the Reds”, As such, he has sought to remain scrupulously aloof from national politics and was among the first Russia oligarchs to seek a meeting of minds with the Putin administration.
In early 2000, Putin called all the oligarchs to the Kremlin and offered them a deal: Stop stealing, pay your taxes and stay out of politics and the state will leave you alone. Fridman enthusiastically accepted the offer and former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khordokovsky did not. This eventually enabled Fridman to use state sponsorship to seal his oil firm’s (TNK) merger with international supermajor oil and gas conglomerate BP in order to create TNK-BP. Khodorkovsky is broke and in prison.
Alfa Banking Group (Est.1991), the largest private, commercial and investment banking group in Russia and the CIS. Alfa Banking Group is part of the Alfa Group Consortium – one of Russia’s largest and most successful privately-owned companies – which was founded in 1989, by Mickail Fridman, German Khan, Alexei Kuzmichov and several other partners with interests in oil and gas, financial services, retail, telecommunications and utilities.