Warner Music Group
Len Blavatnik has a distinction that no one else in the world can claim: He's the only person who owns a major-label group. Even Terra Firma's Guy Hands had institutional investors backing his ill-fated acquisition of EMI-and when push came to shove, Terra Firma's lender Citigroup wound up in control. But at Warner Music Group, Blavatnik is the sole equity owner, having put up about $1.1 billion of his own money, supplemented by about $2.2 billion from bondholders, but the debt was borrowed under much more favorable terms than that assumed by Terra Firma. Blavatnik, a Russian-born billionaire who Forbes ranked last year as the 80th-richest person in the world, acquired WMG last year through his privately held holding company Access Industries. His day-to-day control of WMG comes through his installation of Stephen Cooper as CEO, a turnaround specialist (Enron, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). According to company insiders, he's been a hands-on executive at WMG, although he leaves creative decisions to recorded-music chairman/CEO Lyor Cohen (see No. 14). But it's Blavatnik who holds all the cards.
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