Pyotr Aven

Petr Olegovich Aven
Native name Петр Олегович Авен
Born Petr Olegovich Aven
March 16, 1955
Moscow, USSR
Residence Russia, United Kingdom
Nationality Russian
Other names Pyotr O. Aven
Alma mater Moscow State University
Occupation Businessman, banker, economist, art collector, former politician, philanthropist
Years active 1981-present
Organization Alfa-Bank, Alfa Group, LetterOne
Net worth US$5.1 billion (2015)[1]
Awards Russian Federation Order of Honor,[2] Latvian Order of the Three Stars,[2] Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship[3]
Website Aven on LinkedIn

Petr Olegovich Aven (Russian: Петр Олегович Авен; b. March 16, 1955), also known as Pyotr or Peter Aven,[4] is an international businessman, economist, art collector, and former politician.[5] Aven is currently Chairman of ABHH, a Luxembourg-based investment holding company of Alfa Banking Group. From 1994 to June 2011, Mr. Aven served as President of Alfa-Bank Russia, Russia's largest commercial bank. He is a member of the board of directors at LetterOne Group, which he co-founded in 2013 and is headquartered in Luxembourg. A professor at National Research University – Higher School of Economics and a periodic guest educator abroad,[4] Petr Aven is the author of scientific papers and articles on economic and trade issues. In 2015 he was named number 301 in a list of the richest people in the world, with a worth of around $5.1 billion.[1] His art collection was described in 2007 as "the world’s biggest private collection of Russian art."[6]

Early life and education

Petr Olegovich Aven was born in Moscow, USSR on March 16, 1955.[5][7] His father Oleg Ivanovich Aven (Russian: Олег Иванович Авен) was a professor of computer science at the USSR Academy of Sciences,[7] and was half Latvian and half Russian.[7][8][9] Aven's mother was from a Jewish family,[5] while his paternal grandfather Janis Aven was a Latvian rifleman.[8] Early in his life, Aven recollects being absorbed by reading, stating "reading books the day and night fascinated me; nothing else was exciting for me."[7] He attended a well-known physical-mathematical school in Moscow,[8] graduating high school in 1972.[9] He speaks Russian, English, and Spanish.[8] While attending Moscow State University for economics, he led the student music club.[8] Graduating in 1977,[8][4][10] he afterwards attended Lomonosov Moscow State University as a graduate student,[4][2] graduating in 1980 with a PhD in mathematical economics.[10]

Political career

In 1981, Aven became a junior researcher at the Scientific Research Institute for System Studies at the USSR Academy of Sciences. He was later promoted to senior researcher.[8] While at the institute, he worked in the same room[7] as his future political colleague Yegor Gaidar, who had also attended Moscow State University with Aven.[8] During this time,[4] Aven also advised the administration of Mikhail Gorbachev.[4] In 1989 he became principal researcher at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria,[4] where he remained until 1991.[2][10] During this time he worked as an advisor to the Russian Foreign Ministry.[8]

Aven was appointed a Minister of Foreign Economic Relations in the fall of 1991,[8] retaining the role until December 1992[4][8] in the government of Yegor Gaidar.[4] Also during this time, he served as Russia’s representative to the G-7 in the role of Presidential Special Envoy.[11] From 1991 to 1992, he worked on implementing an economic reform model in Russia that he'd helped develop while with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria.[7] He personally oversaw the establishment of the convertibility of the ruble,[4] and pushed for the liberalization of foreign trade[4] in 1992.[8]

Business career

Alfa Bank and purchases (1994-2012)

See also: Alfa Group, Alfa-Bank, and TNK-BP

After going into business on his own in 1993,[8] that May Aven met Russian businessman Mikhail Fridman of Alfa Group, discovering they shared similar ideas on business.[7] Aven soon became an Alfa-Bank shareholder[2][5] and a boardmember of the larger Alfa Group Consortium.[2] From 1994 until June 2011, Aven served as the president of Alfa Bank. Now the largest private bank in Russia,[2] in Aven's first three years as president, the bank moved from 31 to 9 in the list of largest Russian banks.[8] Aven was primarily "responsible for the bank's overall strategy and relations with business and government leaders in Russia and abroad."[10][2]

In 1997, Alfa Group Consortium together with Access Industries/Renova Group[12] acquired the TNK Oil Company.[13][14] In 2003, Alfa Group and its partners sold exactly half of TNK to British Petroleum (BP) for USD $6.15 billion, in what was the biggest foreign investment in Russia to date.[15] The deal resulted in the formation of the oil company TNK-BP, with half of the joint venture owned by BP, and the other 50 percent owned by the Alfa Group and its partners (AAR).[16] Alfa Group bought a stake in Turkcell in 2005, and by April 2007, Alfa Group controlled a 43.5 percent stake in Kyivstar, a Ukrainian telecom company.[17] Aven was chairman of JSC Network Television Stations (CTC-Media) until December 2010, and in June 2007 he was appointed chairman of JSC Alpha Insurance.[18] In 2007, Aven's wealth was estimated by Forbes to be worth around £1.5 billion.[6] He became chairman of Alfa Banking Group on July 4, 2011.[4][11] By 2010, Aven's net worth was estimated at $3.6 billion.[5]

Founding LetterOne (2013-2015)

Main articles: LetterOne and L1 Energy
Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and Lord Browne at the L1 Energy launch New York - May 2015

In July 2012, TNK-BP was sold by Alfa Group to the state-owned Rosneft[12] for USD $56 billion,[19] a process which was still underway by early 2013.[16] Reuters described it as "one of the biggest energy takeovers in history."[16] In March 2013 Alfa Group and its partners received for the 50% stake in TNK-BP $28 billion.[20][21] Using the USD $14 billion raised from selling their stakes in TNK-BP, Mikhail Fridman and Aven co-founded[22] LetterOne Group (L1)[23] in 2013, joining the board.[20] Headquartered in Luxembourg,[24] the company was created to invest in international projects in oil and gas,[19] and telecom, technology and energy companies.[24]

In January 2014, Aven joined the board of directors of LetterOne Holdings SA.[18] Alfa Group's assets equaled around $40 billion by March 2015.[25] By March 2015, LetterOne Treasury Services Company was considering investments in London student housing.[26] On March 3, 2015, L1 Energy purchased 100% of DEA,[27] an international exploration and production company[25] owned by the German utility RWE, for USD $7 billion[28] (€5.1 billion).[27] L1 Energy officially launched in the US in May 2015 in New York’s Neue Galerie. The company outlined an ambition to acquire and then develop a portfolio of two or three regionally focused platforms around the world.[29] In April 2015, LetterOne launched LetterOne Technology (L1 Technology) - dedicated to buy "struggling telecom or technology companies that require a fresh infusion of capital."[23]

Recent developments (2015-2016)

In 2015 the previous UK government required L1 to sell its DEA UK oil and gas assets, although the new UK government later clarified that the former decision "was not a judgement on the suitability of the shareholders to control these or any other assets in the UK."[30][31] L1 sold its North Sea oil fields to Ineos, the chemical company owned by Jim Ratcliffe, for an undisclosed sum in October 2015.[32] On October 14, 2015, LetterOne Group announced that it had agreed to a deal to acquire German utility E.ON’s interests in three producing Norwegian fields, all located in the North Sea.[33] Later that month, E.ON solds its Norwegian oil and gas business to L1 for $1.6 billion.[34][22]

LetterOne also revealed plans in October 2015 to contribute funds to Brazilian telecom company OI SA, in an effort to aid consolidation in the mobile phone sector in Latin America.[22] After being informed that Telecom Italia had left discussions, L1 Technology later withdrew its proposal to help finance a merger between Brazilian phone companies Tim Participacoes SA and Oi SA, after four months of efforts to structure a deal.[22][35] Aven remains active with a number of boards and management teams. He is currently on the board of directors of LetterOne Holdings SA,[4][7] and is on the supervisory boards of Alfa Group Consortuim,[4][2] which he co-owns along with Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, and Alexey Kuzmichev,[7] and is chairman of AlfaStrakhovanie Group.[36] He is also chairman of ABH Holdings SA,[18][2] which is the holding company of Alfa-Banking Group.[10]

Academic career

Petr Aven speaking in New York, 2015

A professor at National Research University – Higher School of Economics,[11][10][18] Aven has been a guest professor and lecturer at universities such as Yale University, Bar-Elan University in Israel, and the University of Glasgow.[4] He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Latvia,[2][4] and often lectures on Russian economic developments[2] at Russian conferences[18] and various events abroad.[4]

Aven has published numerous scientific papers and articles on economics and trade issues,[11] with articles included in publications such as Communist Economies and Economic Transformation and Economic Policy. Yale University Press, the Kiel Institute of World Economics, and other scientific and academic institutes have published Aven's monographs.[4] Overall, Aven has published two books on econometrics and economic reform.[4] In 2015 Aven and Alfred Kokh published Gaidar’s Revolution: The Inside Account of the Economic Transformation of Russia, which drew on their joint experiences with the Russian government and the former First Minister, Yegor Gaidar.[7] In his review of the book, John Lloyd of the Financial Times called it “an illuminating study of the reformers who sought to revive Russia’s post- Soviet economy.”[37][7]

Pyotr Aven is also a member of Russia International Affairs Council (RIAC).

Public boards and philanthropy

Aven is a board member, chairman, or trustee for a variety of public institutions, think tanks, and non-profit organizations. He joined the board of directors of the New Economic School,[38] a non-state educational institution in Moscow, in February 2001,[18] also becoming a trustee.[4] In April 2006,[10][18] he became a boardmember of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs,[10][11][2][4] and a year later[18] he became chairman of the Russia-Latvian Business Council.[2][11] Since July 2011[18] he has been a member of the Presidium of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC),[10][11][2][4] and he is on the board of the National Association for National Financial Reporting Standards in Russia.[11][4] Furthermore, he is a trustee of the Russian Geographical Society[2] and the Russian Olympians Foundation.[39] He joined the board of trustees of Lomonosov Moscow State University,[2] his alma mater, in December 2013.[18] He is also on the trustee boards of Bolshoi Theater,[4] the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts,[11][2][10] and the Royal Academy of Arts.[2] He is a member of President’s Council on International Activities at Yale University.[40][2]

Involved with various philanthropic projects, in 2005 Aven co-founded the Alfa Fellowship Program, which "helps Americans work in Russia early in their careers." He funded the project along with Mikhail Fridman.[3] Aven along with Stan Polovets and fellow Russian Jewish billionaires - Fridman, Alexander Knaster, and German Khan, founded the Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG). The organization's purpose is to develop and enhance Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews worldwide.[41][42][5] In 2012, Benjamin Netanyahu announced the Genesis Prize, a $1 million annual award to "honor those people who attribute their success to Jewish values", with an initial endowment of $50 million set up by Aven and several others.[41]


Aven has been the recipient of various state awards,[11] including the Russian Federation Order of Honor[2] and the Latvian Order of the Three Stars,[2] which was awarded to him in January 2012.[18] He has received a number of international awards as well, and in 2004 he was named "best manager in the financial services sector in Russia" by Institutional Investor.[43] The magazine later named him "Russia’s most admired executive in financial service" as well.[4] On November 3, 2015, Aven received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, in recognition of his contribution to corporate and public service to U.S.-Russia relations and "building understanding" between Russians and Americans during his career.[3]

Personal life

Aven and his family maintain a primary residence in Moscow,[8] with construction on a mansion in Surrey, England completed in 2007.[6] Though involved with Jewish culture and initiatives, Aven has publicly identified himself as agnostic.[9] Aven is a self-professed fan of hunting, travel,[8] theatre, and the arts,[2] and is a recognised collector of fine art.[8] His art collection, which he started in 1994,[44] has a focus on the "Silver Age"[8] of early twentieth century Russian art.[2] In 2007 The Sunday Times described it as "the world’s biggest private collection of Russian art,"[6] and by early 2015 Aven had accumulated around 500 works, "four-fifths of which are early modernist figurative paintings."[44] In May 2015,[45] 39 pieces from Aven’s private collection[44] were put on display at New York’s Neue Galerie, in an exhibition examining the relationship between Russian and German art of the early twentieth century.[45] Among the works contributed by Aven[44] were paintings by Vasily Kandinsky, Aristarkh Lentulov and Mikhail Larionov.[44] The New York Times gave the show a positive review.[44]

Publishing history

Incomplete list of publishing credits for Petr Aven
Yr Release title Authors Publisher ISBN
2015 Gaidar’s Revolution: The Inside Account of the Economic Transformation of Russia Petr Aven and Alfred Kokh I. B. Tauris ISBN 978-1784531225

See also


  1. 1 2 "The Forbes World's Billionaires list is the definitive list of the world's wealthiest people, profiling and ranking billionaires from 70 countries by their estimated net worth.". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 "Petr Aven profile". Alfa-Bank Board of Directors. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 "Petr Aven receives Woodrow Wilson Award in Washington". LetterOne. November 3, 2015. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 "Petr Aven profile". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "The world's 50 Richest Jews: 41-50". Jerusalem Post. September 7, 2010. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Hollingsworth, Mark (May 6, 2007). "Safe as houses: the KGB-proof mansion". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Subbotina, Kristina (November 19, 2015). "Exclusive "No Tie" Interview With Head Of The Alfa Banking Holding, Petr Aven On Business, Childhood And Friends". Jewish Business News. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Zenkovich, N. (2004). "Biography of P. O. Aven". National Historical Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2016-07-29. (Russian)
  9. 1 2 3 Ilichevsky, Alexander (May 2010). "Interview with P. Aven". lechaim. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "Peter Aven". Genesis Prize. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "RIAC Presidium". Russian International Affairs Council. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  12. 1 2 "One of the original founders of LetterOne, Mr Fridman is Chairman of the Board of Directors of L1 Holdings and L1 Investment Holdings". LetterOne. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  13. Chazan, Guy (March 5, 2015). "Mikhail Fridman: The Alpha oligarch". Financial Times. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  14. "German Khan - Executive Director of TNK-BP". Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  15. "Mikhail Fridman - Profile". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  16. 1 2 3 Callus, Andrew (December 4, 2012). "Insight: UK court reveals fear and mistrust at TNK-BP". Reuters. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  17. "Shareholder dispute could drive Kyivstar into technical default". Kyiv Post. 11 April 2007. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  18. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Petr Aven profile". HSE. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  19. 1 2 "Rosneft and BP Complete TNK-BP Sale and Purchase Transaction". BP. March 20, 2013. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  20. 1 2 Alic, Jen (June 23, 2013). "Alfa Billionaires Launch L1 Energy Fund". Retrieved 2015-09-27.
  21. Forbes: The World's Billionaires - Pyotr Aven March 2014
  22. 1 2 3 4 Leite, Julia (October 26, 2015). "Fridman Offers $4 Billion to Merge Brazil Carriers Oi, Tim". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2016-03-11.
  23. 1 2 "Russian tycoon Fridman to invest $16bn in US & European telecoms - media". RT. April 6, 2015. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  24. 1 2 "LetterOne". Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  25. 1 2 Bershidsky, Leonid (March 5, 2015). "Not All Russian Billionaires Are Putin Cronies". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  26. "Russian oligarchs grasped at student housing in London". ee24. March 6, 2015. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  27. 1 2 "LetterOne completes purchase of RWE Dea for €5.1 billion". Oil and Gas Journal. March 2, 2015. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  28. Macalister, Terry (March 8, 2015). "Ex-BP boss aims to build major energy industry player from scratch". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  29. Macalister, Terry (March 8, 2015). "Ex-BP boss aims to build major energy industry player from scratch | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  30. "Fridman looks to avert political row by selling North Sea fields". Financial Times. March 17, 2015. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  31. "Russian billionaire to sell North Sea gas assets - media". RT. March 18, 2015. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  32. Khan, Mehreen (October 11, 2015). "Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe snaps up North Sea oil fields". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  33. "Russia's Fridman spends $1.6bn on Norwegian oil and gas fields". Financial Times. October 14, 2015. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  34. "E.ON agrees 1 billion pound sale of North Sea assets to Fridman". Reuters. October 14, 2015. Retrieved 2016-03-11.
  35. "Mikhail Fridman pulls out of Brazil phone merger". Financial Times. February 25, 2016. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  36. "Petr Aven profile". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  37. Lloyd, John (July 3, 2015). "'Gaidar's Revolution', by Petr Aven and Alfred Kokh". Financial Times. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  38. "Endowment Foundation Board of Trustees". New Economic School. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  39. "Council of Trustees". Russian Olympians Foundation. Archived from the original on 13 October 2008. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  40. "President's Council on International Activities". Yale University. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
  41. 1 2 Herszenhorn, David M. (June 26, 2012). "Russians Join Israel to Start Jewish Prize of $1 Million". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  42. "Ceremony Marking the Cooperation between Yad Vashem and the Genesis Philanthrophy Group". Yad Vashem. June 12, 2009. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  43. "Petr Aven profile". Skolkovo Experts and Lecturers. Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
  44. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Smith, Roberta (May 28, 2015). "Review: 'Russian Modernism' at Neue Galerie, Figurative Focus With Amorphous Results". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
  45. 1 2 "From The Director". Neue Galerie. Archived from the original on 2016-05-11. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
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