Overview of Mikhail Fridman
Mikhail Fridman, a Ukrainian-born Russian-Israeli entrepreneur, stands out prominently in the global business and finance arena. Boasting a substantial fortune, including Mikhail Fridman Assets, co-founded Alfa-Group, a multinational Russian conglomerate. In 2017, Forbes ranked him as the seventh-richest individual in Russia. Fridman’s impact spans diverse sectors, including banking, energy, retail, and telecommunications. Beyond his business ventures, he actively engages with public-facing organizations. Notably, he contributes to the National Council on Corporate Governance in Russia and serves on the board of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.
Mikhail Fridmanl’s fortune soared due to a series of highly profitable debt securities transactions. This financial success enabled him to acquire significant stakes in Russia’s oil industry. He played a key role in the Big Seven, the original group of oligarchs pivotal in financing President Boris Yeltsin’s successful 1996 re-election bid. At that time, their combined influence reached an estimated 50% of Russia’s valuable assets.
Diverse Portfolio of Mikhail Fridman Assets
Luxury Apartment of Mikhail Fridman
Mikhail Fridman, a Russian billionaire and co-founder of the Alfa Group, possesses several lavish properties.
Athlone House, a Victorian-era gothic estate in the upscale Highgate neighborhood of north London, sits on five acres of landscaped gardens inspired by the Palace of Versailles. It’s situated next to Usmanov’s Beechwood House. Fridman acquired this mansion in 2016 for approximately $90 million and oversaw extensive renovations, which included the addition of an underground swimming pool, a yoga room, and an observatory. According to British property records, Mikhail Fridman is the direct owner of this property.
In the leafy St. John’s Wood district of northwest London, Mikhail Fridman possesses a three-story stuccoed home at 25 Cavendish Close. British property records confirm that the owners of this property are Jersey-based Oak Trustees (Jersey) Limited and Oak Services (Jersey) Limited. According to British court records, Fridman bought this house in 2002 and lived there as his primary residence up until 2020.
Additionally, Fridman owns a two-story, 6,500-square-foot residence in the seaside resort town of Jūrmala, Latvia. Fridman paid $5.9 million for this property, which he reportedly intended for his parents to use. However, according to the Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism (Re: Baltica), Latvian authorities have seized it. At the time of this writing, a representative for Fridman has not responded to a request for comment.
Art Gallery Collection of Mikhail Fridman
Athlone House, located in London’s Highgate neighborhood, serves as the residence for Fridman’s impressive art collection. This mansion has undergone extensive restoration and now boasts amenities such as an underground swimming pool, a yoga room, and an observatory.
Fridman has been a generous patron of the arts, financing various museum exhibitions during his time at LetterOne. He’s also been an active participant in art auctions and is known to have been a client of the prestigious Gagosian Gallery. In 2013, he made a noteworthy art investment, acquiring a Warhol masterpiece for $38 million through this prominent art dealer.
Alfa Group and Alfa-Bank
Alfa Group Consortium, a privately owned investment conglomerate, boasts diverse interests across industries, spanning oil and gas, commercial and investment banking, asset management, insurance, retail trade, telecommunications, water utilities, and special situation investments. The group’s inception can be traced back to 1989 when Israeli-Russian entrepreneur Mikhail Fridman and former USSR businessman Anatoly Potik co-founded it under the name Alfa-Eco.
This endeavor took shape as a joint venture, with Anatoly Potik’s ADP Trading holding a 20% stake and Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa-Foto possessing the majority share at 80%. Subsequently, the group welcomed other key partners into its fold, including German Khan, Alexei Kuzmichov, Alexander Kushev, and more.
TNK-BP and Energy Ventures
Fridman’s involvement in the oil and energy sector
Mikhail Fridman’s career has been closely intertwined with the oil and energy sectors, with several noteworthy involvements:
Alfa Group’s Oil and Gas Interests: One of the prominent chapters in Fridman’s journey involves Alfa Group’s substantial interests in oil and gas. Notably, they entered into a 50/50 joint venture with BP, consolidating their oil and gas portfolios.
Acquisition of North Sea Gas Fields: In 2015, Fridman’s investment fund, LetterOne Group, made headlines by acquiring North Sea gas fields as part of a significant 5.1 billion euro takeover of RWE’s DEA oil unit. This move, however, faced a challenge from the British government, which raised national security concerns, subsequently mandating Mikhail Fridman to divest these assets within six months. In response, Fridman even threatened legal action against the government.
Proposed Acquisition of Stake in North Sea Gas Field: In 2017, reports emerged of Fridman’s impending acquisition of a stake in the Wingate gas platform situated off the east coast of England. This deal was part of a broader merger proposal between DEA, an oil and gas company under the ownership of LetterOne, and the German utility company EON.
Other Notable Energy Investments: Expanding beyond these headlines, Fridman’s LetterOne Group has ventured into various energy investments across Denmark, Norway, Germany, and Egypt.
Mikhail Fridman’s journey through the energy sector is marked by significant milestones and, at times, contentious episodes.
His role as chairman and CEO in the energy sector
Mikhail Fridman, a notable figure in the energy sector, has played various significant roles in the industry. Although he hasn’t held the CEO position of any energy company, his contributions are noteworthy. He is best known for co-founding Alfa-Group, a multinational Russian conglomerate, and for his role as Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Alfa-Group Consortium until 2021. Additionally, he served on the boards of Alfa-Bank and ABH Holdings.
Mikhail Fridman served as the CEO of TNK-BP, a 50/50 joint venture, for a remarkable nine years. TNK-BP, an oil company established in 2003 through the merger of BP’s Russian oil and gas assets and the oil and gas assets of Alfa-Access-Renova (AAR), a consortium of four Russian billionaires, including Fridman, Under his leadership, TNK-BP ascended to become Russia’s third-largest oil company in terms of production. In 2013, he made the strategic decision to sell his stake in the company, subsequently co-founding the international investment company LetterOne (L1).
L1 Energy’s North Sea oil assets
On March 3, 2015, L1 Energy purchased the international oil and gas company DEA from German utility RWE for $7 billion (€5.1 billion). RWE DEA, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, held significant assets in the British North Sea and produced 2.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2013.
The acquisition faced opposition from Ed Davey, the UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary. He expressed concerns that Mikhail Fridman, the owner of L1 Energy, might potentially face international sanctions related to Ukraine, which could lead to the shutdown of North Sea production. This, in turn, would jeopardize oil supplies and 5% of Britain’s North Sea natural gas output. Consequently, on March 4, 2015, Davey issued a one-week deadline for Fridman to convince the UK government not to force the sale of North Sea oil and gas assets. In April 2015, the government granted Mikhail Fridman up to six months to complete the sale.
Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy
Fridman’s entrepreneurial ventures outside of finance
Fridman Mikhail’s career has extended beyond the realm of finance, encompassing various entrepreneurial pursuits. Here are some of his notable involvements:
Music Ventures: During his high school years, Mikhail Fridman showcased his musical talents by performing with a band. In college, he also co-owned a student discothèque named Strawberry Fields.
Philanthropy: Fridman played a pivotal role as one of the founders of the Russian Jewish Congress in 1996. He remains an active member, having served as its vice president and headed its cultural committee. His philanthropic endeavors extend to being a major donor to the European Jewish Fund, an organization dedicated to promoting inter-religious dialogue.
Art World: Fridman has been associated with the prestigious Gagosian Gallery as a client.
Green Energy: In 2021, Fridman’s investment fund, LetterOne Group, unveiled ambitious plans to invest $1.5 billion in renewable energy projects across Europe.
Technology: Notably, Fridman Mikhail’s investment fund, LetterOne Group, ventured into the technology sector with investments in prominent companies like Uber and Deezer.
Healthcare: Within the healthcare sector, Mikhail Fridman’s investment fund, LetterOne Group, has made strategic investments, including in the renowned German pharmaceutical company, STADA.
Mikhail Fridman’s diverse entrepreneurial engagements underscore his wide-ranging interests and his significant impact on various industries.
His philanthropic activities and contributions
Russian Jewish Congress: In 1996, Mikhail Fridman co-founded the Russian Jewish Congress and has remained an active member since. He has held positions as its vice president and head of the cultural committee.
European Jewish Fund: Fridman is a significant contributor to the European Jewish Fund, an organization dedicated to fostering inter-religious dialogue.
Green Energy: In 2021, Fridman’s investment fund, LetterOne Group, unveiled plans to invest a substantial $1.5 billion in renewable energy projects across Europe.
Art World: Fridman is known to have been a client of the prestigious Gagosian Gallery.
Healthcare: Through LetterOne Group, Fridman’s investment fund, he has made notable investments in the healthcare sector, including contributions to the German pharmaceutical company STAD.
Mikhail Fridman‘s dedication to various philanthropic causes
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