Shaper: Mikhail Fridman

Show aired on 10th June 2017


Mikhail Fridman

Mikhail Fridman was born in Lviv, Ukraine and has Jewish heritage. He graduated from the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys in 1986, with distinction, having studied metallurgical engineering.

In 1988 Mikhail co-founded Alfa Group, a multinational conglomerate. He served as chairman of the 50/50 TNK-BP joint venture for nine years and in 2013 he sold his stake in the oil company before co-founding the international investment company LetterOne.

This year Forbes ranked him the seventh richest man in Russia.

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In the early 80’s I tried to enter the best Soviet University in Moscow. I was rejected, not because of my academic knowledge but primarily because of my Jewish religion. It was difficult to get in with a name like mine.

I am very proud that my partner and I have retained our relationship over many years. It started from a very simple business like washing windows.

I’ve seen a lot of examples where success destroys relationships.

What’s the most important thing in business? I would say a combination between analytical ability and a good understanding of human nature.

Private banks didn’t exist in the Soviet Union so we decided the simplest way to get money for working capital was to establish our own bank. Now we are the largest private bank in the country.

To be aggressive in business is positive. Not aggressive in a bad sense – you need to protect your business interests. It’s necessary, especially in an environment like Russia.

We’ve been to Court. It’s very important to keep certain moral standards when doing business.

I am from Lviv, a medieval city in the Western part of Ukraine. It’s a handsome city, a city of traders, a city of people of different nationalities and religions – very kind and tolerant.  It seems to fit very well with jazz music, so I proposed we set up a jazz festival there.