On April 21 in the year 1964, one of the wealthiest Russian businessmen was born in Lviv, Ukraine. His name is Mikhail Fridman, one of the founders of Alfa Group, a privately-owned investment group with interests in banking, telecommunication, oil and gas, and utilities. As of August 2021, his net worth is $15.9 billion, according to forbes.com.
Mikhail Fridman was a scion of a Jewish family who owned a big business in Ukraine prior to the 1917 Russian Revolution. Despite his Jewish heritage, he was able to acquire a degree in metallurgical engineering from the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys. As a college student, he was actively involved in dance and theatre groups and made money selling tickets. When Russia began its transition to market economy, he founded a small housecleaning business.
In partnership with college friends German Khan and Alexei Kuzmichev, Mikhail Fridman founded another company to sell rugs and computers. Later, they engaged in export and import trading. In 1991, the trio set up a commercial bank called Alfa. In 1997, the group bought 40% stake in a former state-owned oil company that controlled several oil fields in the Siberian Region. In the 2004, they partnered with British Petroleum to formed TNK-BP. In 2005, they launched the telecommunication subsidiary Altimo, to offer mobile communications in Russia and later in Turkey.
In 2013, the Alfa group sold its stake to Russia’s state-owned oil company, Rosneft, for $27.7 billion. That same year, Mikhail and his partners established LetterOne Holdings and set up its main office in Luxembourg. Since then, the group diversified into oil and gas exploration and production.
Mikhail Fridman has four children and has been divorced with his wife. He was not included in the number of personalities targeted by the west when it imposed sanctions on Moscow over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.