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Petr Aven

Пётр Авен
Date of birth
16.03.1955
Аge
69
Сitizenship
Russia, Latvia
Net worth*
$4.2 BN

*Net worth according to Forbes Russia (billion USD)

697
Current global ranking
$4.2B
Real-time net worth
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437
Current global ranking
$5.99B
Real-time net worth
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Famous for

  • Co-founder of Alfa-Bank, Russia’s largest private bank.
  • An economic reformer in the 1990s, former Russian government minister and former associate of Yegor Gaidar.

Assets

Alfa-Bank is Russia’s largest private bank. Aven holds a 12.4% stake. The bank’s assets are worth 6.2 trillion rubles (about $74.69 billion) as of 2023. It is part of the Alfa Group consortium.

Through its investment holding LetterOne and in partnership with Alfa-Bank’s business partners, Aven owns various assets with a total value of $18.654 billion (almost 1.250 trillion rubles) as of 2022, including:

  • German oil and gas company Wintershall Dea (33% stake);
  • Turkey’s largest telecom operator Turkcell (19.8% stake);
  • VEON telecoms holding (56.2% of shares);
  • British health food chain Holland & Barrett;
  • US pharmaceutical company Parexel;
  • BakeMark, one of the leaders of the American baking industry.

Interests and hobbies

  • Aven is an art collector, primarily of Russian art. His collection has been exhibited at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre in Moscow, the Tate Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. In 2020, Forbes estimated that the collection was worth more than $500 million (more than 34.5 billion rubles at the time).
  • He is the owner of what he claims is the world’s largest collection of Latvian porcelain.
  • Aven likes hunting. He was a member of the Hunting and Game Management Council of the Russian Federation.
  • He is a fan of Spartak football club and has been a member of its Board of Directors since 2015.

Professional history

Petr Aven was born in Moscow on 16 March 1955.

He graduated from the Faculty of Economics at Moscow State University in 1977. It was during this time that he met Boris Berezovsky, a mathematician and future billionaire.

In 1980 he was awarded a doctorate in economics.

Around the same time, he became friends with his future business partner Mikhail Fridman.

Between 1981 and 1988 he worked as a researcher at the USSR Academy of Sciences, where one of his colleagues was Yegor Gaidar, the ideologue and mastermind behind the economic reforms of the early 1990s.

In 1989, he worked in the USSR Foreign Ministry and at the same time went to Luxembourg on a two-year contract to work at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

In 1992, under the patronage of Boris Yeltsin, he became Minister of Foreign Economic Relations of Russia. He held this post until he left Yegor Gaidar’s government at the end of the same year.

During 1993 he was an advisor to Berezovsky, now a billionaire and the president of LogoVAZ.

In 1993, he founded FinPA, a consulting company dealing with securities transactions and the foreign debts of various countries. The company soon began working with Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa-Bank.

At the same time, he was elected to the State Duma by Gaidar’s Russian Choice party, but gave up his seat in favour of business.

A year later, at Fridman’s invitation, he became president of Alfa-Bank, taking a 10% stake in the company in exchange for a 50% stake in FinPA. He remained on the company’s board until 2022. He also headed Alfa Insurance.

In 1998, he became an executive at STS media holding (as of 2009, Alfa-Bank held a 26% stake in the company), which incorporates several Russian TV channels.

Between 2001 and 2011, he was involved in Alfa Group’s telecommunications business on the board of directors of Golden Telecom.

Between 2007 and 2017, he was the Chairman of the Russian–Latvian Business Council, which is dedicated to the development of business cooperation between the two countries.

He was a member of the board of Latvijas Balzam, Latvia’s largest alcoholic beverage company.

In 2016, Aven was granted Latvian citizenship, since he has Latvian roots..

In 2013, together with business partners Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, Alexei Kuzmichev and Andrei Kosogov, he founded the investment holding company LetterOne. The joint investments totalled $15.36 billion (about 491 billion rubles at the time). The partners received the money for this investment from the sale of the TNK-BP oil company.

In 2022, Aven was sanctioned by the European Union, the United Kingdom and a number of other countries. He subsequently resigned from his positions at Alfa-Bank, X5 Retail Group and LetterOne. Aven was also placed under US sanctions in 2023.

He has lived in Latvia since 2022.

Deals and ventures

  • In 2005, Alfa Group acquired a controlling stake in X5 Retail Group, which owned Russia’s largest retail chains Pyaterochka and Perekrestok. The transaction value exceeded $1 billion (over 28 billion rubles at the time).
  • In 2011, the Alfa Group consortium sold its stake in the STS media holding for $1.07 billion (about 31 billion rubles). The buyer was Telcrest, a company linked to the National Media Group and the Itera gas holding. After that, Aven personally bought part of the STS shares for $1.56 million (about 45 million rubles), with his stake ultimately amounting to 0.2% of the shares.
  • In 2013, the Russian state company Rosneft bought 100% of the shares in the oil company TNK-BP. The share belonging to Alfa-Bank’s co-owners was about 25%. Together with Petr Aven, they earned $13.86 billion (almost 430 billion rubles at the time) from the deal.
  • In 2020, Alfa Group acquired a majority stake in the British fintech startup ANNA Money for $21 million (about 1.72 billion rubles at the time).
  • In 2021, Petr Aven bought a historic building in the centre of Riga for $4 million (about 292 million rubles at the time). He plans to open a museum there to display art from his collection.
  • In 2022, Alfa-Bank sold its sanctioned Kazakhstan unit to local bank CentreCredit for an undisclosed amount.

Achievements

  • Recipient of the Russian Order of Honour for his professional achievements and long and conscientious service, and the Order of Friendship for his contribution to the social and economic development of the country.
  • Recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Award for civic engagement and contribution to US–Russian relations.
  • He is the recipient of the III Class Order of the Three Stars, Latvia’s highest state award.
  • Honorary Doctor of the University of Latvia for his scientific and practical contribution to Latvia’s development and cooperation with Russia.
  • Professor at HSE University.
  • Author of Berezovsky’s Time and Gaidar’s Revolution: An Inside Look at Russia’s Economic Transformation, covering the events and personalities of the 1990s in Russia. He is the co-author of Business and Power in Russia: Interaction in Crisis.

Criticism

  • In 2020, Alfa-Bank shareholders Mikhail Fridman, German Khan and Petr Aven won a lawsuit in a London court over the publication of the ‘Trump dossier’ by BuzzFeed. It claimed that Aven was advising Vladimir Putin on relations with the US. The judge ordered that the content of the report be corrected and that Fridman and Aven each be paid $22,800 (about 1.8 million rubles at the time).
  • In 2021, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office sought to recover $104.5 million (about 7.63 billion rubles at the time) from Alfa-Bank as corrupt assets in connection with the case against convicted ex-minister Mikhail Abyzov. The parties subsequently entered into a settlement agreement and the bank donated the funds to charity.
  • It was reported that the Latvian government was considering the possibility of stripping Petr Aven of his citizenship in 2022. Two years earlier, he had been questioned in a case relating to the bribing of the former head of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs.
  • In 2023, Ukraine nationalized Sense Bank, formerly Alfa-Bank Ukraine. The owners proposed that the country’s authorities hand the company over to another shareholder, but the National Bank of Ukraine refused.
  • Since 2022, Petr Aven has been suing the British government to unfreeze his own assets worth $1.8 million (about 122.5 million rubles at the time). The authorities have already released about $1.1 million of the businessman’s assets (about 75 million rubles at the time).

Attitudes to Russian–Ukrainian conflict

“This [the imposition of sanctions] is understandable. But it is unfair. But I can’t complain when people [in Ukraine] are dying.”

Community work

  • In 2008, Aven founded the Generation Charitable Foundation to support children’s healthcare, science and cultural exchange projects between Latvia and Russia.
  • He is a trustee of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.
  • Since 2002 Petr Aven has supported the Russian School of Economics and is a member of its Board of Trustees. Students at the university can receive the Aven Scholarship.
  • Aven is a trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts charity.

Additional information

Married with three children.

Source for information: Forbes.com, Bloomberg.com, Wikipedia.org, Tass.ru, Lenta.ru, Republic.ru, BBC.com, RBC.ru

I'm very glad that I made money when I was already past 40. It's worse when you come into millions at 25–30 years old, millions that are easily earned, because in times of growth it is really easy to earn. Whatever you buy can be sold for twice as much within a year. Glamour is a consequence of precisely this easy, almost too easy money. Easy money destroys personalities.
Petr Aven

Interviews and articles

  • ‘Will I be allowed a cleaner, or a driver?’ Life after sanctions for a Russian oligarch
    ft.com March 25, 2022
    ‘Will I be allowed a cleaner, or a driver?’ Life after sanctions for a Russian oligarch
    Read more

Last update: 16.04.2024

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