Len Blavatnik, Owner of Warner Music Group, Fined by FTC Over App Investment
Len Blavatnik, owner of Warner Music Group through his Access Industries conglomerate, owes the FTC a chunk of change after failing to give them a proper heads up on his sizable investment in a startup. He'll pay $656,000 for it.
Back in 2011, Access acquired a $634 million chunk of voting securities in the chemical company LyondellBasell, but failed to report the purchase, running afoul of antitrust laws under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act of 1976, which are intended to give officials prior warning so that they can weigh the potential antitrust implications of acquisitions like that one. After that, Blavatnik purchased an additional $15.5 billion of securities in the company. In that instance, Blavatnik was found to have violated the FTC's HSR rules, but was spared a penalty as long as he and Access Industries implemented rules that would prevent similar failures to disclose in the future.
Fast forward to Aug. 6, 2014, when Access acquired 29.1 percent, or $228 million, in voting securities for the mobile messaging app startup TangoMe -- again failing to report the acquisition. Instead of letting him slide, the FTC and Blavatnik have reached a settlement for that $656,000 mentioned above.
For Blavatnik, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes to stand around $18.6 billion, $656,000 is akin to what we spend on a burrito. Still, the billionaire got lucky; the HSR law allows for a daily penalty of $16,000 -- in this case, that could have put Blavatnik on the line for a $2.6 million penalty. When asked by Billboard about the discrepancy, the FTC responded that the $656,000 was "a negotiated settlement [that] took a number of factors into account."