Len Blavatnik, the man reportedly on the verge of buying Warner Music, is known for many things:
- Being the world’s 80th wealthiest man (Forbes puts his fortune at $10.1 billion).
- Owning some of the most expensive real estate in New York ($27.5 million Fifth Ave co-op, $31.25 million “palace” on E63rd Street, $50 million townhouse on E64th, at last count).
- Donating to the world’s best schools (Harvard, Oxford, Tel Aviv University, you’re welcome).
But in Russia, he’s known for one thing. The Soviet-born tycoon, who now lives in the US and holds US citizenship, is a part owner in TNK-BP, once a jewel in BP’s crown and now its greatest headache.
Blavatnik, via his Access Industries holding, is the quietest owner in AAR, a grouping of Russian oligarchs that owns 50% in TNK-BP (the other half is owned by BP). First, AAR waged a ruthless campaign in order to get BP to give it more operational control (they won, after TNK-BP’s then chief, Robert Dudley, now head of BP, fled the country). Now, they’re screwing with BP’s (expensive) plans to jointly explore the Arctic (this time they’ve left behind their ruthless tactics, at least, and are going via a London court). Blavatnik isn’t believed to be involved in strategic decisions like that, however, leaving it to his AAR partners Mikhail Friedman, German Khan and Viktor Vekselberg. Let’s just hope he doesn’t invite his Russian buddies to Warner.