My lunch with Alisher Usmanov is very nearly the shortest in FT history. Moments after we meet, the Uzbek-born Russian billionaire suggests we cancel.

“Today has been a difficult day,” he says, trudging through the lobby of a luxury spa hotel in the Bavarian Alps. “And frankly, if you want to know all about my life, well, for that we will need at least two bottles of vodka.” Fresh off a hastily arranged morning flight from Moscow, I am in no mood to return with an empty notebook or, indeed, stomach...

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