Alexei Kuzmichev (алексей кузьмичев) is considered one of his country’s top business people and a global investor. Ranking on lists of world billionaires and Russia’s richest, with a net worth of $7.3 billion, . Also an art lover, banking tycoon, and oil baron, he is the definition of an alpha personality. He is also one of the trio that started the Alfa Group – the largest financial services and industrial business in Russia today.
Kuzmichev was born in 1962 in Kirov, Russia. In 1980 he enlisted in the army, serving two years as a radio operator on the border between Russia and China. He was a member of the Communist party, but had his sights set firmly on a very capitalist lifestyle and business career. In 1983 he started his degree at the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys. During his studies he met German Khan and Mikhail Fridman, and in 1988 the trio of college friends formed a small business partnership called Alfa Photo — a company that imported chemicals used in the photographic industry. In the heady days of perestroika and glasnost, the business flourished.
In 1991, the partners founded the Alfa Bank, and today this industry institution is the largest private bank in Russia. In 1998, Alfa Eco was formed when Alexei Kuzmichev urged his partners to expand and diversify their business holdings into the export industry.
Expansion into the Oil Business
The latter years of the 1990s demonstrated the business acumen of the trio with their buyout of state-owned Tyumen Oil and the subsequent merger with BP in Russia, forming the company TNK-BP. In 2013, in a stunning and highly publicized business move, the Alfa Group billionaires and their partners sold 50% of TNK-BP for $28 billion to Rosneft, a state owned company. The sale netted Kuzmichev a tidy $2.5 billion and a great deal of media attention.
The Alfa Group is invested in a number of diverse businesses and industries in Russia and around the world. The company owns X5, one of Russia’s largest retail groups as well as having investments in Vympelcom, a massive cellphone and telecommunications company. Today, Kuzmichev is the Chairman of A1, (formerly Alfa Eco) a private equity firm with assets that include Formula Kino, BelMarket, and Nezavisimost, the largest Russian car sales company.
International Art and Philanthropy
Both Alexei and his wife, Svetlana Kuzmicheva-Uspenskaya, are passionate about contemporary art and believe that art can be used as a powerful tool for philanthropy and charity. In 2014, Svetlana was the driving force behind the New York benefit for Project Perpetual. The idea behind the project is to raise money for children’s organizations through the promotion and sales of exclusive artworks created by some of the world’s most avant-garde artists. The benefit included an auction of the iconic sculptures by well-known artist Jeff Koons, utilizing the even more iconic, and exclusively priced, Hermès Birkin bags.
Though the couple are nominally based in Moscow with their one son, the Kuzmichevs own homes in a number of European and US cities, and travel frequently both for business and pleasure.