Russian Bank Announces Fund

Alfa Bank of Moscow is coming to America.

The bank, and its private equity subsidiary Alfa Capital, is seeking $130 million to $150 million in investment funds from European and United States LPs for a new Russian hedge fund called Russian Century Fund.

The bank was founded in 1992 and ranks as the largest private financial institution in Russia with over $6.2 billion dollars in assets.

Russia’s existing hedge funds, led by the Hermitage Fund ($1 billion in assets) and Prosperity Capital Management ($450 million), have quietly made impressive returns themselves since their founding in the late 1990s despite the Russian financial meltdown of 1998.

Similarly Alfa Bank, one of the few Russian financial institutions to repay all outstanding debts, has grown to span the nation with 100 branches across the country. It serves 500,000 individual customers and 50,000 corporate clients throughout the Russian Federation.

The bank is headed by Mikhail Fridman, one of Russia’s richest men and who achieved international recognition in June when the bank’s oil company, Tyumen Oil, signed a $6.2 billion deal covering oil and gas production in Russia with BP of the United Kingdom. It was the largest foreign investment into Post-Communist Russia’s economy.

Alfa Bank invests in four sectors: retail (groceries), financial infrastructure (insurance), petroleum and information technology. Bernard Sucher, founder of Russia’s early financial services companies, Troika Dialog, heads Alfa Capital, the asset management business of Alfa Bank. He has overseen Alfa Capital’s efforts in the newly reformed Russian pension fund environment, which has been mandated with allowing Russian pensioners to manage a portion of their personal retirement funds.

The hedge fund the group is raising will invest in long and short-term positions in the public equities of companies that invest in Russia or Russian related businesses.