“A Self Made Billionaire”. With this phrase so recurrent in business success stories sums up the conglomerate Access Industries to its founder and president, magnate Lev Blavatnik. This businessman made his fortune with Soviet aluminum, in the midst of the fall of the socialist system and its conversion to capitalism, and the oil sector. After that, he undertook a multitude of operations and acquisitions to create a business giant that ranges from the industry to music, through the television rights of major sports competitions around the world. With this business he has made his last big move, precisely in Spain: investing 2,200 million euros to have half of the LaLiga matches during the next five years.
Dazn, a subsidiary of Access Industries, has been awarded this week by the Spanish football association of five games per day, the other five being for Telefónica. Both will pay 4,950 million, at a rate of 990 million a year, to broadcast these games, although the subscription will be higher by the ‘teleco’ since three of the 38 days will have them exclusively. Dazn has become the first streaming platform to bet in Spain on the broadcast of the highest national sports competition.
The operation represents the final landing of Dazn in Spain. The British platform landed in March 2019, less than three years ago, and had been gaining space with the rights of other competitions, such as the English Premier League, the Women’s Champions League, the Libertadores Cup or other sports such as motorcycling or Formula 1 By number of followers, this week’s award is the most important it has had, which in other countries such as Italy already offered the highest national soccer competition.
Dazn has barely five years of history but it has gradually become one of the most important buyers of television rights in sport at an international level. It has been one of the first live sports streaming platforms to be established, based on millionaire investments in rights. Proof of this is the contract with the football association that has now been signed, at the same time fulfilling the wishes of LaLiga to have more operators than Movistar, and of Telefónica, to reduce the cost of a business that is not always easy to make profitable . Globally, it has 7.6 million subscribers.
The platform already had an agreement with Movistar +, the pay television with more partners in Spain, to broadcast on it the sports content that Dazn had and not Movistar, such as the English league. Now, Telefónica has already advanced its intention that this collaboration be maintained, in order to continue offering all the first division matches. In addition, the British company can be seen with a reduction in the cost of television rights, since Orange, the other platform that offers football in Spain together with Movistar, has announced this week that it will seek to negotiate with Dazn to continue offering this content .
Blavatnik currently has one of the jewels of his holding company in Dazn. Born in Ukraine when he was still within the USSR, this businessman created his company in the US at the end of the eighties and ended up acquiring American citizenship and, later, British. There it has been recognized this year as the greatest fortune in the country, according to a list compiled by the Sunday Times. Its assets are around 27,000 million euros, after having increased it in 2020, during the pandemic, by more than 8,200 million euros. Both Sunday Times and The Guardian They associated the significant increase in his fortune with the growth of Dazn and that of another of his jewels: Warner Music. The more up-to-date Forbes list estimates an even higher net worth, at about € 32.6 billion, in 20th position worldwide. In April 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, Forbes estimated his fortune at 15,000 million.
It all started in Ukraine
But the origin of Blavatnik’s fortune is far from music and sports broadcasting. According to the British media, this businessman made money with the aluminum and energy industry in Russia in the period of the transition caused by the collapse of the USSR. From there, it extended its activity to other countries, where it was increasing its heritage. Blavatnik sold his stake in Russian oil company TNK-BP in 2013 for $ 7 billion.
In the last decade, it has been redirecting its activity to other areas, especially since in 2011 it became the majority shareholder of Warner Music, the record company of singers such as Ed Sheeran or Dua Lipa. To this he allocated about 3,300 million dollars. This business has exploded in recent years and a decade after its acquisition, the company is valued at more than $ 20 billion.
In the entertainment world, in addition to Warner Music and Dazn, Access also owns Deezer, one of the largest streaming music platforms, along with Spotify or Tidal. It also has a British film production company, AI Films, an audiovisual group in Israel, or a telephone company in Norway. But his businesses also take him to natural gas in the US or the petroleum derivatives and biotechnology industry. In the real estate market, it has a portfolio of hotel properties in Los Angeles, Miami, Argentina, the Bahamas or the French Riviera. It also has a venture capital investment fund in technology companies, participating in some financing rounds of companies such as Spotify or Snapchat, among others. This video from Forbes, made before the launch of Dazn, helps you understand the diversification of your fortune.
This Ukrainian magnate with a British and American passport, renowned philanthropist for his investments in universities in the United Kingdom and the United States, has also been known for his generosity in financing electoral campaigns of various parties in the United States. As reported by The Guardian, until 2014 he primarily funded the Democratic Party, but when Donald Trump announced his intention to run for the White House, Blavatnik allocated $ 1 million to his inaugural campaign committee. In the last race for the presidency, in 2020, the businessman returned to the Democratic ranks to support candidate Pete Buttigieg and media such as Forbes have also pointed to him as support for Joe Biden, the current president.