Alexander Abramov (Александр Абрамов) is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Russia, with a net worth of $4.3 billion, according to Forbes Magazine (March 2015). He is married and lives with his wife and three children in Moscow. Together with his partner Roman Abramovich, Abramov owns one of the largest steel and mining companies in Russia. His story is an inspiration to those who seek to climb to high places from modest beginnings.
Education and Early Preparation
Born in 1959, Abramov studied at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, graduating with honors. He received a BA in Science and a PhD in Physics and Mathematics.
After graduation, Abramov joined the Institute of High Temperatures, one of the premier space and defense research labs in the FSU, climbing to the position of Deputy Head of his unit before the collapse of the FSU. When his research funding dried up, Abramov assessed the reality of the economic situation, and decided it was time to step out into the business world. With neither political connections nor financial resources, Abramov capitalized instead on his knowledge of the steel industry and the contacts he had made as a scientist to leverage his early foray into metal trading.
In the early 1990s, metal trading was a relatively easy profession and provided quick turnaround in cash. In 1992, he established EvrazMetal, what would later become Evraz-Holdings, and became hugely successful exporting coal and metals from Siberia and the Urals. By the late 1990s, metal trading also suffered from the faltering economy, and many trading company owners including Abramov were owed large sums from the producers. Abramov began exchanging debt for stakes in steel companies, such as the Nizhny Tagil steel mill. He purchased failing coal mines and steel companies for little money, including the U.S. companies Oregon Steel and Claymont Steel.
Evraz-Holdings is an international, vertically integrated steel and mining company that trades on the London Stock Exchange. It is the largest iron and steel company in Russia. Evraz has three large steel mills, four iron ore and two coal mines, among them Russia’s largest methane coal producer Yuzhkuzbassugol, and a large commercial port in Nakhodka, in eastern Russia, which facilitates its shipments to Asian export markets. Evraz employs roughly 125,000 workers, has annual turnover of around $20 billion, and controls 22% of Russia’s total steel output. It has headquarters is in London, with facilities in Russia, Czech Republic, Ukraine, South Africa, Italy, Canada and the United States.
Success Built on Strategic Vision
Abramov’s early success can be traced to his focused acquisitions strategies designed to lead to long-term profitability and growth. He turned first to establishing control over steel construction products, searching for factories that would give him collaborations, which led him to two factories in Kemerovo, home to Russia’s largest coal mines, both of which were in bankruptcy and owed salaries for eight months. Workers were then striking, Aman Tuleev was the Governor of the region at the time, and both needed each other: Tuleev needed stability in the factories, and Abramov needed the factories. A deal was struck whereby Abramov would pay the back salaries and all outstanding taxes, and Abramov got the factories.
Within 15 years, Abramov succeeded in building a flourishing steel and iron production conglomerate in Russia.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Abramov is a strong advocate of corporate social responsibility, especially as it relates to education. He has previously stated that: “Russian business must show its social responsibility, especially in the realm of education. Raising education standards really does lead to a rise in living standards. Investment in education is the most significant and promising of all investments, and the degree to which we do invest will in many respects determine the future of not only Russian businesses, but of Russia as a whole.”