Len Blavatnik is a Ukrainian-born American businessman and philanthropist who is best known for being the founder and chairman of Access Industries, a global conglomerate with interests in various industries, including technology, media, and natural resources.
Born in 1957 to a Jewish family in Odessa, which was part of the Soviet Union’s Ukrainian SSR at the time, Blavatnik’s parents later moved to Yaroslavl, Russia, during his childhood. While attending Moscow State University of Railway Engineering, Blavatnik formed a close bond with Viktor Vekselberg, another Ukrainian Jew, who would go on to establish Renova Group. However, Blavatnik did not finish his coursework due to his family’s desire to obtain emigration visas.
In 1978, Blavatnik and his family left the Soviet Union and relocated to the United States of America. He obtained a master’s degree in computer science from Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1981, and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1989.
After completing his education, Blavatnik started his career in the United States in the field of technology, working for companies such as IBM and Warner Communications. In 1986, he founded Access Industries, which started as a holding company for his investments in the chemical industry but has since expanded into other areas.
Blavatnik established Access Industries Holdings as a holding company in 1986, serving as its chairman and president. The New York-based firm holds a controlling interest of 21% in LyondellBasell, which is the biggest global producer of polypropylene. Blavatnik’s Access Industries Holdings owns the majority of Warner Music Group and holds stakes in various publicly traded assets.
Blavatnik began his business career by acquiring shares in aluminum smelters during the privatization period that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Blavatnik and his friend Viktor Vekselberg formed the Renova investment vehicle and accumulated smelters and plants, eventually becoming the second-largest aluminum firm in Russia.
In 1997, Blavatnik’s Access Industries united with Vekselberg’s Renova Corp and Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group to form AAR, which bought 40% of a struggling oil producer Tyumen Oil (TNK) for $800 million. TNK later acquired Sidanco’s best assets via bankruptcy proceedings, which led to a lawsuit by British Petroleum (BP). The lawsuit was resolved when BP acquired TNK for $8 billion, forming TNK-BP, one of the largest oil companies in Russia. In 2013, Rosneft paid AAR $28 billion in cash for its 50% stake in TNK-BP, representing the liquidation of the majority of Blavatnik’s Russian assets.
Today, Access Industries is a diversified company with investments in various industries, including telecommunications, media, technology, and natural resources. Some of the most well-known companies in Access Industries’ portfolio include Warner Music Group, LyondellBasell, and Acision.
Outside of his business interests, Blavatnik is also known for his philanthropy. He has donated millions of dollars to various causes, including education, science, and the arts. In 2010, he donated $50 million to the University of Oxford to establish the Blavatnik School of Government, which focuses on training public leaders from around the world.
Blavatnik has been recognized for his business and philanthropic achievements with numerous awards and honors. In 2017, he was awarded the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, which recognizes individuals who have dedicated their wealth to philanthropic causes. He has also been named to Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $20.4 billion as of September 2021.
Entry into Entertainment Industry
Access Industries, owned by Len Blavatnik, has made various acquisitions and investments in the entertainment industry over the years. In 2011, Access acquired Warner Music Group for $3.3 billion, despite the company’s struggles with debt and online music piracy.
In 2020, Warner Music announced an initial public offering that valued the company at $13.3 billion. Access Industries also invested €100 million in music streaming service Deezer in 2012 and acquired Perform Group for £702 million in 2014.
In 2016, Access Entertainment was launched, which bought James Packer’s stake in RatPac Entertainment and a 24.9% stake in Bad Wolf in 2017. Blavatnik was named as a possible purchaser of Time Inc. in 2017, but the bid was later withdrawn.
Blavatnik’s Access Entertainment also acquired Britain’s Theatre Royal Haymarket for around £40 million in 2018. Additionally, Blavatnik owns AI Film, which backed Lee Daniels’ film The Butler and the 2015 release Mr. Holmes, and has made various other investments, including in Rocket Internet and Beats Music. Access Industries increased its stake in DAZN Group from 42.5% to 77% in 2014 and has been its owner since then.
As of September 2021, Forbes estimated Len Blavatnik’s net worth to be $20.4 billion. Blavatnik’s fortune is primarily derived from his holdings in Access Industries, which has investments in various industries including technology, media, and natural resources. Over the years, he has also been involved in several high-profile acquisitions, such as Warner Music Group and LyondellBasell, which have helped increase his net worth.
Len Blavatnik has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career. Here are some of his most notable achievements and recognitions:
These are just a few examples of the many awards and honors that Len Blavatnik has received in recognition of his business acumen, philanthropy, and leadership.