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A little of the Augie Fabela story

August 11, 2009 in Saabology

Augie Fabela is the Chairman of the Koenigsegg Group. He is not listed as someone who owns a stake in the group, but he has deep connections with Koenigsegg, being noted previously as the head of the American distribution organisation for Koenigsegg.
Fabela, a US citizen, made his mark on the business world by heading to Russia at a young age and co-founding one of Russia’s first big mobile communications companies. The company was called Vimpelcom and they traded as BeeLine.
Fabela got into business with the Russians through his father’s connections. The Fabela family sponsored visits to the US from Russian businessmen in the electronics industries and it was through these visits that the partnerships that would become Vimpelcom were formed.
Vimpelcom became only the 2nd Russian company to list on the New York Stock Exchange, the first in the post-Soviet era. The only Russian company to list on the NYSE prior to Vimpelcom was the company that built the trans-Siberian railroad in the early 1900s.

I learned all of this (well, 2nd paragraph onwards) by reading a book written and published online by another – and the most prominent – of Vimpelcom’s co-founders, Dmitry Zimin.
FabelaZimin.jpg
That’s Zimin, second from the left.
This photo was taken a few years after he retired. To commemorate the anniversary, he was joined by Koenigsegg Group part owner, Melissa Schwartz as well as Koenigsegg Group Chairman, Augie Fabela (to Zimin’s right). They presented him with the actual flag that flew outside the NYSE the day Vimpelcom was listed.
This book is Zimin’s story, but there is plenty of Fabela’s story in there, too.
It chronicles, in broad terms, the struggle to establish a privately owned, new tech company in early-1990′s post-Soviet Russia. I’m sure there’s plenty that isn’t told in the story, but over all it’s a story of overcoming some pretty serious commercial and political challenges in an environment that was pretty hostile for much of the time.
I found the book thanks to Michael Z, who summed it up pretty well in his email to me:

…..what I’d like to point out is that Zimin and Fabela made their business and money not from stealing trains with oil and other property from the country and then selling and buying properties with the only aim to make money, like Abramovich, but from getting their work done, and that was by no means an easy task.

As Michael says, it paints the picture of a pretty arduous training ground for the guy who I believe is the primary mover and shaker in the Koenigsegg Group. It also gives me a fair bit of confidence that a guy like Fabela can get the job done.
And if nothing else, it’s a fun read merely for metaphors about buxom wet nurses, transmission tower thefts and a guy named Livshits.
It’s not a difficult read at all. It’s more of a long short-story than a full-on biography. I read most of the relevant chapters in a lunch hour.
Start here at Chapter 5 – the beginnings of Vimpelcom.
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Thanks again to Michael for the discovery!!

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