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Russia's Richest Man Usmanov: Wait For Next Facebook Surge

Reported by Geoff Cutmore, written by Catherine Boyle
Thursday, 20 Dec 2012 | 1:31 AM ET
Russian Oligarch Alisher Usmanov
Oli Scarff | Getty Images
Russian Oligarch Alisher Usmanov

The Russian billionaire who is one of Facebook's biggest investors believes that the social networking company's potential is "not fully understood" — even by the company itself.

Alisher Usmanov, the Uzbekistan-born founder of USM Holdings who is Russia's richest man according to Forbes, told CNBC that he was happy with the outcome of the company's much-publicized initial public offering, the biggest of 2012.

Usmanov said: "We are actually waiting for the next surge.We believe the company could be even more successful. Because this is a company that has faith in its prospects, faith in its creator Mark Zuckerberg."

(Read More: Facebook IPO - CNBC Special Report)

Usmanov made more than $1 billion selling off part of his stake in the company, which he bought into in 2009. Asked if he would sell off his remaining shares when the lock-up expires in May, Usmanov said: "We will see."

"We are happy with what we did. We bought at the right time at the right price," he said.

Russia's Usmanov: We Continue to Respect Lloyd Blankfein
Alisher Usmanov, founder of USM Holdings and Russia's richest man speaks exclusively to CNBC's Geoff Cutmore about the Megafon IPO and his relationship with Goldman Sachs after they walked away from the deal.

(Read More: Russian's Facebook Bet Pays Off Big)

The billionaire said he "continues to respect" Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, despite Goldmans' high profile exit as bookrunner from the IPO of Megafon, the Russian telecoms company he part-owns.He added that he will "continue to work" with the bank on other investments,despite the Megafon issues, and described Blankfein as "a great financier and banker."

Usmanov claimed: "They felt that they needed… to make certain verification, certain clarification and we for our part felt that we could not wait. We didn't want to wait. And therefore we said that either you accept our plan and our schedule or we will proceed without you. We will move on."

"It's not a question of Goldman Sachs rejecting us or us rejecting them. We just decided to proceed to move on."

Like many businessmen from the former Soviet Union,allegations of corruption have dogged Usmanov throughout his career, which began decades ago selling plastic bags. He dismissed such allegations as the result of jealousy in the interview, and added that he would swear on the Quran (Usmanov is Muslim): "I am an honest man. I am an honest business man."

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