Len Blavatnik: Who is he, what does he do and how did he make his money?

Len Blavatnik is a Ukrainian-born businessman and investor who is an American and British citizen

He made some of his wealth in the tumultuous privatisation of aluminum and oil that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

According to Forbes, Blavatnik is worth over $30billion and as of May 2021, Bloomberg Billionaires Index ranked him as the 35th richest person in the world.

Blavatnik, born in Odessa, Soviet Ukraine (300 miles south of Kiev) to a Jewish family in 1957, emigrated to America in 1978 for school at the age of 21.

He moved to Brooklyn, New York, with his family and after becoming a citizen, Blavatnik achieved a master's degree in computer science from Columbia and got a job at Macy's in the IT department.

In 1986, Blavatnik founded investment company Access Industries and three years later, he graduated from Harvard University. He remains the chairman and president of the company he formed and they have assets in Europe and South America.

As the Soviet Union started to collapse, Nlavatnik started buying Russian aluminium companies that would go on to form part of Rusal. In 2013, he sold his stake in Russian oil company TNK-BP for $7billion.

Blavatnik was also on the board of the aluminium miner Rusal until 2016 and founded one of its major shareholders Sual Partners which has some 62,000 employees.

Other business ventures

Ed Sheeran

Blavatnik has also made money by buying out heavyweight industrial companies such as multinational chemical company LyondellBasell and Calpine - which runs gas-fired power plants. His investment firm Access Industries also holds stakes in fashion label Tory Burch and e-commerce firm Rocket Internet.

In 2011, the 64-year-old purchased Warner Music for $3.3billion before going on to make the company public in June 2020 which saw its value quadruple.

It is the same music label that is home to Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa. It has been reported by the Financial Times that Mars - known for his hit single Uptown Funk - performed at Blavatnik's 60th birthday party.

Blavatnik launched Access Entertainment in 2016 and bought out James Packer's stake in RatPac Entertainment as well as a 24.9% stake in Bad Wolf in 2017. Blavatnik’s Access Entertainment also acquired the Theatre Royal Haymarket in June 2018.

'Netflix of Sport'

DAZN

Blavatnik has been the owner of DAZN Group since 2014 after Access Industries increased its stake from 42.5% to 77%.

In 2016, OTT sports platform DAZN launched in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and then Canada the following year.

It has since opened in 200 countries and territories, including Italy, Spain, Brazil, the United Kingdom and the United States.

DAZN are looking to make a big dent in the sporting world and have been successful across Europe in Italy and Germany. They currently have the rights to Serie A in Italy and it is believed they have an estimated one million subscribers while DAZN Germany have exclusive rights for the Bundesliga.

While they have also enjoyed success in Japan, the same cannot be said about DAZN USA. Despite pumping hundreds of millions into boxing and MLB, DAZN have under one million subscribers compared to nine million for ESPN+.

Following the huge success of Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor on DAZN Germany - with more than one million streams - DAZN decided to focus on boxing as their marquee sport to begin with on DAZN USA.

Conor McGregor facing off with Floyd Mayweather Jr ahead of their fight in 2017

They made Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez the face of their flagship on a $365million, 11-fight deal to make it the largest contract signed by a professional athlete. 

And Michael Buffer was the announcer who shouted the rhetorical slogan of 'pay-per-view is dead'.

Canelo fought just three of the 11 bouts agreed after filing a lawsuit against former promotional company Golden Boy. It released him from his contract and he is now a free agent. And four years on from telling fans that paying for additional fights was dead, DAZN will stage their first PPV event on May 7 when Canelo takes on Dmitry Bivol.

The streaming platform is continuing their efforts in boxing though and will also stage the upcoming middleweight unification between Gennadiy Golovkin and Ryota Murata on April 9. The bout is set to take place in Japan.

Read more: Anthony Joshua could follow Tyson Fury in fighting a British star next

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