Born in Uzbekistan, Cherney grew up in Tashkent, Uzbek. After finishing high school, he joined the Soviet Army for military service and subsequently attended a technical college. Cherney has two younger brothers and during his teenage years, assisted his father as a bookkeeper in the evenings after school.
Cherney is considered one of Russia’s very first entrepreneurs: he had no easy connections to the state apparatus, no financial backing and very definitely no entry into the upper echelons of Russian society and business. His fortune was built on tenacity, hard work and a clear business mind.
In the early 1990’s, Michael and his younger brother, Lev Cherney invested heavily in privatization vouchers, used to purchase shares in many of the nearly bankrupt factories producing aluminium. Together with David and Simon Reuben, UK-based metals traders, Cherney founded the Trans World Group (TWG), which became the largest private company in Russia, selling aluminium to the West. TWG eventually became part of a conglomerate of companies, changing its name to Siberian Aluminium (SibAL) and later still, RusAL.
SibAL and Oleg Deripaska
Michael Cherney emigrated to Israel in 1994 with much of his fortune in SibAL equity, leaving Oleg Deripaska at the helm of the company. Relations between the two degenerated, leading to a law suit which was settled in 2001 with Deripaska paying Cherney over $400 million. In 2006, High Court Justice Christopher Clarke, ruled that Cherney could further sue Deripaska for up to $4billion in the United Kingdom, for his stake in the merger of SibAL and RusAL. The matter was eventually settled out of court in September 2012 for an undisclosed amount.
Investments in Europe
Michael Cherney has close ties to Bulgaria and has remained an influential investor in Eastern European companies. In 2002 he invested in Bulgartabac, a Bulgarian state-owned tobacco company as well as a controlling stake in mobile company Mobitel. He also owned 20% of Bulgarian football club, PFC Levski Sofia, until 2009.
Private Life and Philanthropy
Cherney and his wife Anna live a private life, rarely giving interviews and not courting the limelight favoured by many with similar fortunes. The Michael Cherney Foundation was established in 2001 in response to the suicide bombing of a Tel Aviv nightclub. The Foundation helped with payments to many of the families of the 150 deceased. It also aids many Russian-born Jewish families settle in Israel. Michael Cherney is a sponsor of The Intelligence Summit, a global platform for the intelligence community to discuss the growing need for international cooperation in the war on terror.