At a crossroad of very different cultures, half Russian, half Egyptian, Mikhail Orlov was born and grew up in Switzerland. He speaks five languages and holds a Master degree in Economics from the St-Gall School of Economics, Law, Business & Public Administrationin Switzerland.
After few years spent in the office of the General Director of the UN World Health Organization dealing with the consequences of the breakdown of the former USSR on healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry, he worked first as corporate banker with Credit Suisse setting up a large correspondent banking network throughout Russia before becoming the head of the Moscow office of INVESCO as managing director. In charge of finding private equity investment opportunities, he mainly supervised the management of portfolio companies usually with a strong turn around scenario supporting the creation of value to investors. He then became Managing Director – International with The Carlyle Group in charge of private equity investments in the former USSR.
In 2005, he created Black Earth Farming Ltd, one of Russia’s largest agricultural companies. It acquired approximately 330’000 hectares of prime agricultural land, the majority of which had been fallow for several years as a result of the breakdown of the USSR and of the lack of adequate agricultural legislation and policies in the country, and put it back into production with modern agricultural principles. This project had a serious social impact from a point of view of employment and upgrade in professional qualifications.
After a successful IPO on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, he left the company and dealt with different agricultural projects in Russia, Zambia, Ethiopia and other parts of the world. He developed a strong franchise in the seed segment and became a recognized expert on the entire food value chain advising different governments and corporates/investors. He served 3 years on the Board of PETKUS Ltd, the world’s leading company in equipment and integrated solutions for the seed industry.
He currently chairs the Russian-Egyptian Business Council (since 2014). He is also a Mentor at the SKOLKOVO Innovation Center and a Member of the Advisory Board of the “AgroFinMost” project with the HSE – Skolkovo Institute for Law and Development.
He got awarded the Stolypin Award in 2008 from the Minister of Agriculture of Russia for the most efficient investment into Russian agriculture and received in May 2013 the Anders Wall Award from the renowned Swedish Anders Wall Foundation for the rural project “Danilovka”.