Who is Alexander Shnaider?

Alexander Shnaider is the man behind the recently-announced Midland F1 team. Born in St Petersburg in Russia, the 36-year-old left the country almost immediately with his parents and settled in Israel where he grew up. The family moving to Toronto, Canada, when Shnaider was 14. He attended Toronto's York University. In 1994, when he was only 26, Shnaider co-founded Midland with three other partners, believed to be Russians with the names Sukiyasov, Sakhnovski and Sokolovski. A year later the company became involved with the Zaporozhstal steel works, one of the Ukraine's largest industrial enterprises. It is not clear how this was achieved but at the time the outdated Soviet steel company was in need of markets for its steel and Midland appears to have provided them and enabled the firm to take control and in a number of other related businesses. The company then diversified into shipping and mor recently other businesses although it has expanded it steel operations with the purchases in 2003 of the Red October Steel Works in Volgograd, Russia and Ukraine's Kremenchug steel company. The company was also dealing in scrap metals. The firm remained low profile until the controversial purchase in 2002 of the state-run Armenian Electricity Network for only $37.15m despite the firm having no experience in the power generation business. This led the Internatonal Monetary Fund to voice reservations about the choice.

Midland continued to expand and invest in a wide variety of different businesses including shipping, property, construction, electricity generation, agriculture and meat packing. It has a variety of subsidiaries around the world including the shipping company which is based in Toronto. Midland has invested heavily in Serbia and Montenegro and recently acquired the Niksic steelworks in Montenegro for $1200, on the understanding that the firm would invest $40m in the facility by 2008.

Midland's move into F1 is in order to give the company more profile.

"For a global business conglomerate the search for a global communication platform is natural," he said. "Our research into coverage of different sports showed that only three events met our criteria for international exploitation: The Olympic Games, World Cup Soccer and Formula 1. As the two others are quadrennial Formula 1 was the natural fit. Midland's involvement is market driven. And so is the determination to build a team from scratch as opposed to buying an existing one. Midland Group is an investment company, and by creating a new team we are creating value."

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