Billionaire Len Blavatnik unloads last major Russia asset with Rusal sale
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Len Blavatnik has sold his stake in Russian aluminum producer United Co. Rusal International, divesting his last major asset in the country where he seeded his $33.5-billion fortune.
Blavatnik sold the shares in the second half of last year, according to people familiar with the sale who declined to comment on the buyer or other details of the transaction. His interest in Rusal amounted to about 1.2-billion shares, which had a market value of about $610-million at the end of 2022.
Blavatnik, a naturalised US citizen, had been trying to sell the Rusal stake for several years but the process was complicated by the fact that he held the shares through a partnership with sanctioned Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg.
An email sent to Rusal’s press department outside of business hours wasn’t immediately returned.
Born in Ukraine, Blavatnik made his initial fortune in Russia’s chaotic privatization era following the fall of the Soviet Union. He later moved to the US and became known for successful investments in plastics and chemicals-maker LyondellBasell Industries NV and Warner Music Group.
His biggest windfall came a decade ago when he and partners including Vekselberg, Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan sold their stake in a Russian oil venture, TNK-BP, to state-owned Rosneft. He personally reaped $7-billion from the deal.
The vast majority of Blavatnik’s fortune is now tied to assets based in the US and Europe. His holding group, Access Industries, holds a majority stake in Warner Music and 20% of LyondellBasell, as well as sports streaming company DAZN Group Ltd. His fortune ranks him the 38th-richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.