Posted on : 07-06-2012 | By : admin | In : Empire Building, EU ambassador, Ex-Defense Chief in Ukraine, Interfax-Ukraine, Kiev, Kremlin, Kremlin2, Michel Platini-EURO 2012 in Ukraine
Tags: Empire Building
Fridman started out with a window-cleaning business as the Soviet Union collapsed, ushering in the rampant capitalism in which a few people were able to quickly build business empires.
He went on to amass a wide range of assets from the oil, banking, retail and telecoms sectors, buying up Soviet energy assets on the cheap and staking a string of wagers on the emergence of a free-spending Russian middle class.
With a fortune estimated by Forbes at $13 billion, Fridman’s Alfa Group owns a 25 percent stake in TNK-BP, a near 25 percent voting stake in mobile firm VimpelCom and just under 50 percent in leading food retailer X5. Fridman also owns 36 percent of Alfa Bank.
Fridman’s empire has become increasingly international, which some observers say reflects a desire to spread risk out of Russia. Capital flight out of Russia has been high, blamed in part on a lack of confidence in the country’s respect for property rights and on persistent, rampant corruption.
Fridman is described as intelligent, ruthless and cynical. During his tenure as CEO, TNK-BP entered Vietnam, Venezuela and Brazil. He backed VimpelCom’s costly and controversial expansion into markets such as Africa, to the chagrin of Norwegian partner Telenor, which favored a Russian-focused strategy.
In April, he agreed on a deal to sell out of MegaFon, Russia’s No. 2 phone company, which is eyeing a London IPO. Kremlin-friendly oligarch Alisher Usmanov won control in the deal and later sold an interest to a state-linked company.
Observers say Fridman may also at some point seek a sale of X5, which has struggled since the firm’s chief executive, Lev Khasis, left last year to join U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart.
“There is a general view that he seems to be looking to divest out of Russia and internationalize his business more,” said another source in the Moscow financial community. “I think he’s always wanted to do that.”
Fridman was not available to comment for this article.