CEE architects of transition: Petr Aven
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CEE architects of transition: Petr Aven

Petr Aven served as minister of foreign economic relations for the Russian Federation between 1991 and 1992. He was president of Alfa-Bank Russia from 1994 to 2011 and is currently chairman of the board, a position he also holds at ABH Holdings, Alfa Group’s financial holding company.

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Big Russian private-sector banks are like mushrooms. Every decade, a new crop spring up, dominate the landscape for a few years and then either blow up spectacularly or disappear without trace. 

The one exception to this rule is Alfa-Bank. For nearly 30 years, the lender has weathered the repeated storms that have battered Russian banking, each time emerging stronger than ever. Much of the credit for this remarkable longevity goes to the bank’s long-serving president, Petr Aven. 

An economist by training, Aven joined Alfa-Bank after a brief spell as a minister in Russia’s first post-Soviet government, where he was tasked by Boris Yeltsin with making the rouble convertible and liberalizing foreign trade. That done, he made a rapid exit from politics. 

“I quickly understood that the day-to-day of political life wasn’t for me,” he says. 

In 1994, he met Mikhail Fridman, founder of the rapidly expanding conglomerate Alfa Group.

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