Alisher Usmanov spoke about his life under two bottles of vodka

For the first time in more than ten years, the Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov gave an interview to the Financial Times; he spoke about relations with Putin and Abramovich, sanctions and heirs, and parting with Arsenal.
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An interview with Alisher Usmanov was published under the heading Lunch with the FT, in which the journalists of the publication communicate with businessmen and top managers at a dinner in a restaurant (and sometimes, as was the case with the creator of Ethereum Vitalik Buterin, they order food at home). The author of the material, the chief of the FT Moscow bureau, Henry Foy, met Usmanov at a hotel on Lake Tegernsee in the Bavarian Alps. At the last moment, the interview was almost canceled. Usmanov referred to a difficult day and added: “Honestly, if you want to know everything about my life, we will need at least two bottles of vodka.”

The interview still took place - in the restaurant of a five-star hotel, imitating a classic tavern with upholstered walls and waitresses in traditional Bavarian dresses, Foy describes. In total, a lunch of Bavarian dishes, which was also attended by the translator Usmanova, cost € 288. More than a quarter of this amount (€ 62) went to vodka.

“Without vodka, what kind of conversation is this?” Usmanov explained. According to Foy, the billionaire raised toasts “for friendship”, “for freedom of choice” and “for sports, friends and beautiful women”. Forbes retells the most interesting of the interviews.

About Putin and relations with the authorities

When asked by the journalist about whether Usmanov is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the billionaire replied that he was talking with him, but had never received any personal tasks from him.

“He does not need anything. He does not need oligarchs, only a strong state, ”Usmanov says of Putin. “I recognize the leader of the country of which I am a citizen. I respect him. I think that today he is the number one leader in the world ... But I never had anything to do with these so-called special tasks, ”the billionaire emphasized.

Under special assignments, Usmanov meant statements by the US authorities that some Russian businessmen act on behalf of the Kremlin, FT clarifies. In January 2018, the US Treasury Department submitted to the Congress a so-called Kremlin report with a list of “high-ranking Russian officials and entrepreneurs close to the Russian leadership.” Alisher Usmanov was included in this list.

Usmanov emphasizes that he cannot be called an “oligarch” - he doesn’t owe anything to the state because of his wealth, as he acquired his assets on the market, and not in the process of privatization in the 1990s. “All the assets I and my partners bought in Russia, on the secondary market, this was not connected with the so-called privatization process. Nobody ever gave me anything, ”he said.

At the same time, the billionaire admits that the state often helped him. “All the time since I started to engage in big business, large industrial assets, power, the state were very useful and never refused us anything,” the businessman explained.

About sanctions

Usmanov assured that he was not afraid of imposing sanctions against him, since he had seen things more terrible in his life, but admitted that if this happens, he will be “hurt”. “How can I be afraid of sanctions if in my life I come across much more serious things? I do not deserve them, so it will hurt if they come ... I do not intervene. I do not interfere in any political issues, ”he assured.

In 2014, after the introduction of sanctions against Russia due to the accession of Crimea, Usmanov reduced his stake in the USM holding, reducing it from 58% to 48%, which should save the company from negative influence if personal sanctions are introduced against it.

According to the billionaire, it is wrong to apply political and military means of struggle to business. “Russia is a big country and in a sense it is a superpower. And she will fight for her place. And the sooner her partners realize this, the easier it will be easier for them to make a deal. I’m sure that millions [of people] think like me, ”he said.

About football, leaving Arsenal and the new club

In August 2018, the billionaire sold his 30% stake in Arsenal football club to billionaire Stephen Kronke, whom he struggled with for years in control of the club. “If we worked together, we would certainly achieve much more. But the time will come, you know, for greater success, and Arsenal fans will return to the stadium, ”Usmanov comments on this issue.

According to the billionaire, leaving Arsenal was like saying goodbye to love. "And how to deal with old love? We need to find a new one, ”he laughs. According to FT, the English club Everton could become such a new passion for him, a controlling stake in which is owned by Usmanov’s partner and longtime friend Farhad Moshiri. According to Usmanov, if they offer him, he will gladly invest in the club.

“I think about my investment in this club. I can’t refuse Arsenal, I won’t leave him as a fan. But if I join Everton, then I will wear his T-shirt because I am a professional, ”he added.

Usmanov also does not exclude the possibility that he can invest in the construction of the Everton Stadium. According to the Financial Times, Usmanov helped entice Carlo Ancelotti, an Italian coach, former coach of Real Madrid and Juventus, to the club.

About the inheritance

The billionaire plans to divide his assets between relatives and the heads of his companies. “Life is not eternal,” Usmanov says. - Many people helped me. Therefore, I want to help my family and my managers by giving them my shares. ” In an interview with Forbes, he also said that in the future he plans to transfer his package to company management, and not to children.

“Fifty percent of the family, fifty percent - to managers who, in my opinion, deserve this,” Usmanov shares his plans. - Everyone who is in a high position today will receive his own. This is my nature. If fate has given something, it is necessary to share. ”

About Kommersant

Usmanov denies that the Kommersant Publishing House owned by him dismissed political newspaper correspondents last year by order of a shareholder. “I’m not doing this right now,” he says, calling the dismissed journalists “good.” “Sometimes I give my opinion [to the editor] about articles or something like that.”

Foy notes that one of his acquaintances was dismissed for an article about Usmanov. “Listen, rumors about me often appear in Kommersant,” the billionaire replies. - [Believe them] definitely not worth it. They are often mistaken. ”

About Roman Abramovich

Usmanov has known the owner of Chelsea football club Roman Abramovich since 1986 and calls him “a very good friend.” At lunch, he discusses the decision of the UK not to renew his visa to businessman since 2018.

“When it comes to someone who has invested so much money in the UK, who is a fan of Chelsea and is proud of London, I think that they should at least talk to him and explain what he needs to do to stay in the UK . I think in this case, politics influenced, ”said Usmanov.

About Silicon Valley Investments

“I knew that this company would turn the world upside down,” Usmanov said of his early Facebook investments. According to him, he invested $ 460 million directly in the company and another $ 420 million through a fund managed by his partner Yuri Milner F 31, and at some point controlled almost 8% of Facebook shares. Investments, according to Usmanov, have returned more than five times.

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