In 1988, just two years after graduating from university, Mikhail Fridman co-founded Alfa-Photo with German Khan and Alexey Kuzmichev. Alfa-Photo specialised in the import of chemicals used in photography, and would be the first stepping stone in the creation of Alfa-Bank, Russia’s fourth largest bank and the largest private bank in the country.
The following year, in 1989, the three partners in Alfa-Photo founded Alfa-Eco, a commodities trading firm that would soon move into the oil and gas sector. Along with Alfa-Eco came investment Alfa Capital, and the time had come to incorporate these entities into the Alfa Group Consortium, which was achieved in the same year.
Today Alfa Group Russia manages over USD 80 billion in total assets, but in those early days it was a modest vehicle for trading late 1980s office equipment, namely early computers and photocopying machines, with the expansion into imports and exports, oil and gas, and other commodities coming a little later. The group now operates across telecommunications, banking and retail.