President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Alfa Group is a big group working at national level, and you have financial assets too. I would like to hear your views on the current situation, including with regard to your bank, Alfa Bank. And I would like to know your view on possible additional steps for stabilising the situation given the serious international financial crisis that is still going on at the moment.
chairman of the Supervisory Board of Alfa Group Consortium Mikhail Fridman: The situation on the markets is indeed not very calm. Yesterday morning brought new fluctuations on the international markets and on the Russian market too. I believe that the Russian financial system is better protected against fundamental upheaval than is the case in many other countries. I think that overall, the country’s leadership, the Government and the monetary authorities, are taking entirely rational and effective measures to deal with these financial problems.
The main trend on the financial market as I see it, above all in Europe and the USA, is continued consolidation of financial institutions. We are seeing the emergence of supersize super-powerful global financial players.
Dmitry Medvedev: Maybe we should also buy something while it’s not too late?
Mikhail Fridman: I think this will happen quite objectively, because Russian financial institutions today are in a position to be able to bid realistically for some of the assets out there. This is certainly the case in Eastern Europe, and perhaps in more ambitious Western Europe and in America and so on. I think that consolidation of financial institutions will take place in Russia too. This will be consolidation based around the big players, above all the state banks, and private banks too.
I wanted to present to you my views and proposals regarding these processes that will take place on the financial market very soon.
Dmitry Medvedev: Good, what about news in general? What interesting international projects is the group currently involved in? Despite the crisis that has hit the international financial markets, there are nonetheless some good opportunities for concluding investment deals and acquiring useful assets for the group’s development and Russia’s development in general.
Mikhail Fridman: This is absolutely correct and I fully share your view. Indeed, the crisis creates difficulties of course, but it also creates some new opportunities. We are looking now, for example, at opportunities in the telecommunications sector, especially in developing countries. Seeing as we have links with the big Russian telecommunications players – Vimpelcom and Megafon – we have a very aggressive policy, in the positive sense of the word, for expansion into the markets in developing countries.
Dmitry Medvedev: What are your plans?
Mikhail Fridman: We want to take part in Asian markets above all, in countries such as Iran and Afghanistan, so long as it complies with international laws and rules and is in keeping with Russia’s national economic objectives overall.
Dmitry Medvedev: I have said in the past and want to say again now that in cases where, as you just said, everything is in compliance with international laws and rules, the Russian authorities will support private business in its efforts to enter markets abroad.
Mikhail Fridman: Thank you very much. This is very important to us.