Petr Aven

Early life

Petr Aven (also latinised as Pyotr Aven) was born in a communal housing apartment in Moscow on 16 March 1955. His father, Oleg Aven, was a professor of computer science. His mother was from a Jewish family. Aven’s paternal grandfather Jānis Avens, also written Janis Aven, was a Latvian rifleman.
In 1977, he graduated from the Faculty of Economics at Moscow State University, a prestigious institution that regularly ranks among the top 100 universities in the world. He received a Candidate of Economic Sciences qualification in 1980, having specialised in economics.

Career beginnings

One of Petr’s earliest roles after leaving Moscow State University was as a senior researcher at the Institute for Systems Analysis of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union. His career at the institute lasted from 1981 to 1988 and saw him rise through the ranks from junior to senior research fellow. It was also where he would first meet the future Acting Prime Minister of Russia Yegor Gaidar, an economist by trade.
In 1989, Aven was appointed as an advisor to the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During this period, he was sent under contract to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria as a research fellow. He would remain in Austria for two years.

Ministry of Economic Relations

In 1991, he was appointed as First Deputy Minister of Foreign Economic Relations under Yegor Gaidar. In 1992, he was named Russian Minister of Economic Relations under the administration of Boris Yeltsin. Alongside these roles, he was made the President’s representative for relations with developed nations, more specifically the Group of Seven (G7). The intergovernmental forum was established as a vehicle for cooperation between the world’s major industrialised capitalist countries in 1973. Its members are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
During this period Aven was tasked with creating a new ruble exchange programme and solving Russia’s foreign debt crisis. The role saw him carry out a large number of high-level foreign trade and economic missions to capitals of western nations. Aven had a crucial role in making the ruble convertible with foreign currencies and liberalising foreign trade in the pivotal early years of the Russian Federation. After Gaidar’s resignation in December 1992, Aven left his post, having helped to bring the free market into the Russian economy.

Post-political career

Petr Aven’s first move in business came almost immediately after his stint in politics. In December 1992, the same month he had stepped down, he became an advisor for billionaire Boris Berezovsky, who was then the president of Russia’s first private car dealership and at one point had a net worth of USD 3 billion according to Forbes. His official title was advisor to the Corporate President, and he held the position until February 1993.
The following month, in March 1993, he founded the Pyotr Aven Finances (FinPA) consulting company, which supported business deals by leveraging external debt. FinPA regularly consulted Alfa-Bank, which is how Aven and Fridman first built their working relationship – one that continues to this day.


The first sign of Aven’s growing involvement in the operation of Alfa-Bank came in 1994, when he held a bilateral asset swap, trading in 50% of the total shares in FinPA for 10% of Alfa-Bank.
By 1994, he had been made President of Alfa-Bank Russia and Member of the Board of Directors. The bank had been founded by Mikhail Fridman four years previously in Moscow as a partnership with limited liability in the final days of the Soviet Union. It would receive a licence to operate as a bank the following year, when the first corporate clients opened their accounts.
Pyotr Aven remained prominent in his official capacities at Russia’s largest private bank for the next 18 years, becoming Chairman in 2011 and ultimately stepping down in 2022. It was during his time at Alfa-Bank that the now billionaire amassed much of his net worth, which today stands at an estimated USD 4.8 billion.
One of the key players in the bank’s activities, Aven was responsible for overall strategy direction and ensuring good relations with members of the business community as well as politicians, both in Russia and abroad. The bank’s finances have also fared well, with a total equity of USD 8.67 billion, assets worth USD 61.85 billion and a net income of USD 1.35 billion as of 2020. The bank employs over 26,000 people, and has over 1 million retail customers and more than 22 million corporate clients.
On 1 March 2022, Alfa-Bank announced that, in the near future, Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, Alexander Galitsky and Sergey Matsotsky would leave its Board of Directors. Fridman and Aven have retained their respective 32% and 12.4% ownership of ABH Holdings, keeping the pair under the 50% threshold and therefore protecting the banking group from sanctions.

Recent ventures

On 9 August 2022, it emerged that Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven had transferred their stake in ANNA Money to Boris Dyakonov and Eduard Panteleev, the co-founders of the British fintech startup. According to Bloomberg, the latter pair claimed that this deal would open up new opportunities for ANNA Money.

Effect of sanctions

Sanctions imposed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine have targeted the country itself as well as prominent citizens, mostly falling into the category of Russian oligarchs.

Other roles

In terms of commercial roles, Petr Aven was made Member of the Board of Directors of aviation factory Aviakor in 1998, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of both Alfa subsidiary Alfa-TV and CTC Media. The latter is Russia’s leading independent broadcasting company, and operates the popular national channel STS.
In 2007, Petr Aven was elected head of the Russian–Latvian Business Council. Under his stewardship, relations between the two nations improved. The third session of the Russian–Latvian Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Scientific, Technological, Humanitarian and Cultural Cooperation was noted as a particular success, and saw motions put forward in a number of key areas, including technical support for repairs to aviation equipment, a double taxation agreement, and cooperation in telecoms between Latvia’s Lattelecom and Russian operator Sinterra. Aven described Latvia as “attractive to Russian investors” after the session.
He is a Member of the Board of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, the Presidium of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), and the Council of the National Organization for Financial Reporting Standards.
He is a trustee of the New Economic School and the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) in the UK, and a member of both the Russian Football Union (RFU) Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. He is also on the council of trustees of the Russian Olympians Foundation, and the President’s Council on International Activities at Yale University

Net worth

Petr Aven’s fortune is estimated at USD 4.8 billion. At one time, he was ranked as the 28th richest businessperson among Russian billionaires and, in early 2023, his real time net worth saw Forbes rank him as the 575th richest person in the world.
By June 2010, he owned 7.021% of the Altimo telecoms holding company and 13.8% of ABH Holdings, Alfa Group’s holdings company which includes Alfa-Bank as well as oil and gas assets. Aven’s share in ABH was revealed to be 12.4% as of 2022.
In 2006, he purchased a Sardinian villa formerly owned by the Guinness family, and is the owner of Ingliston House in Virginia Water, Surrey, where he is currently resident.
His art collection has been valued at USD 500 million.

Books and lectures

Petr Aven is a professor at HSE University (National Research University Higher School of Economics) and the author of numerous scientific papers and publications on trade and economic development. He often gives lectures in Russia and abroad on the country's economic development and related topics, and has taught at Yale University, Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and the University of Glasgow in the UK.
He has written extensively on his early career success during Russia’s ‘second age of capitalism’. Gaidar’s Revolution: The Inside Account of the Economic Transformation of Russia looks at the economic reforms instigated by Yegor Gaidar’s government and the creation of a market economy during a turbulent period for the country, while The Time of Berezovsky is based on a series of interviews with dozens of prominent people who knew the billionaire at various points in his life.

Awards and honours

Aven is the recipient of the Order of Honour, a state order of the Russian Federation established in 1994 in a continuation of the former Soviet Order of the Badge of Honour. The Order of Honour is awarded to Russian citizens who have made contributions to the country in government, economics, science, culture, sport and charitable activities.
In 2013, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Latvia "for scientific and practical contributions to Latvia's development and cooperation with Russia”.
In 2015, he received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship in recognition of his contribution to US–Russian relations both as a politician and businessperson. His efforts in co-founding the Alfa Fellowship Program were also mentioned at the award ceremony, which took place as part of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Awards Dinner.
He is a trustee of the Royal Academy Development Trust, a charity that supports the initiatives of the Royal Academy of Arts, one of the UK’s oldest arts institutions founded in 1768.

Painting collection

Petr Aven owns Russia’s largest collection of early 20th century Russian painting and is continually looking for new works to add to his collection. One of the most valuable paintings owned by Aven is a portrait of Velimir Khlebnikov painted by Mikhail Larionov in 1910. The billionaire has acquired masterpieces by Konstantin Korovin, Pyotr Konchalovsky, Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Boris Kustodiev, Robert Falk and Aristarkh Lentulov, and his paintings have been exhibited at the Tretyakov Gallery, the Jewish Museum in Moscow, the Tate Modern in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2020, Forbes estimated the value of the collection at over USD 500 million.
In March 2021, it became known that Petr Aven was taking the country's largest collection of 20th century Russian art out of Russia and displaying it in his museum in Latvia. He bought the building at 19, Krišjāņa Valdemāra iela in the centre of Riga to house the collection.
Petr Aven has commented publicly on his family heritage in Latvia being a key factor in his decision to house the painting collection in Riga. “I hope that this museum, including its permanent collection and the exhibitions held here, will make a significant contribution to Latvian cultural life, boost the country’s global profile, and increase the tourist attractiveness of Latvia and Riga,” he said.

Personal life

Petr is married to Ekaterina Kozina. He has two children, Daria and Denis, born to his first wife Elena. The family lives in Surrey, UK.