Yesterday, my colleague George Murphy posted an analysis on the potential impact (or lack thereof) of the Russia/Ukraine sanctions on a series of concerts by U.S. artists such as Justin Timberlake at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland. The post noted that the performances would still go on despite the ownership interests by three newly-designated SDNs in Hartwall Arena: Boris and Arkady Rotenberg and Gennady Timchenko. The post speculated that this was because none of the three named individuals had a fifty percent interest or greater in the venue. Under current rules as interpreted by OFAC, a company would not be blocked even if owned entirely by blocked individuals if no single blocked individual owned 5o percent or more of the company.
That post generated an email to us from an official at Live Nation, the concert promoter for the events at Hartwall, taking issue with the post.
I wanted to reach out because there has been quite a bit of erroneous information out in the public domain about the ownership of the Helsinki venue. The shows are going to continue because the venue is not subject to the US sanctions, not “despite” the sanctions.
I replied that the post had said the concert would go on “despite” the ownership of the venue by the three SDNs, not “despite” the sanctions, a very different thing, particularly since the post speculated that the venue wasn’t subject to the sanctions due to the 50 percent rule.
This led to another response:
They do not own 100% of the venue, there several dozen owners. Based on the best information available to Live Nation they own 100% of an entity which owns only a minority interest in the venue itself, which is the reason the sanctions do not apply.
That was certainly not what numerous new sources (such as The Guardian) were reporting as to the ownership of Hartwall Arena, and the official did not respond to my request to document the assertion about the Rotenberg and Timchenko interests in Hartwall . I did a little digging myself and sent to the Live Nation official this presentation made by Roman Rotenberg, the son of Boris Rotenberg and chairman of the Hartwall Arena. That presentation contains a slide that helpfully diagrams the precise ownership of the Arena. It states that the “owners” of Hartwall Arena are Gennady Timchenko and “Rotenberg family via Långvik Capital.” The organizational diagram shows a “company based in Luxembourg” owned by Timchenko that owns 50 percent of Arena Events Oy that, in turns, owns the Hartwall Arena. It also shows that “Oy Långvik Capital Ltd (Finland)” — owned by the Rotenberg family — owns the other 50 percent of the Arena Events Oy.
If Live Nation is trying to assert that Arena Events only owns a minority interest in Hartwall Arena, that is not consistent with what Roman Rotenberg says. The organizational chart shows that Arena Events Oy owns Helsinki Halli Oy (Hartwall Arena) and owns 49% of Jokerit Hockey Club Oy, the company that owns the hockey team based at Hartwall Arena. It is not clear why the chart would indicate the 49% minority interest in Jokerit but not a corresponding minority interest in Helsinki Halli Oy if, in fact, that was also a minority interest as the Live Nation official asserts.
I also checked the records relating to Arena Events Oy on the Finnish Trade Register which is the official source for corporate records maintained by the Government of Finland. Those records do not indicate the stock ownership of Arena Events Oy and, thus, nothing in those publicly available corporate records contradicts Roman Rotenberg’s charts and statements showing that Timchenko and the Rotenberg family each own 50 percent of Hartwall Arena.
This information, if true, raises the possibility that concerts by Americans at Hartwall Arena might be problematic. Timchenko’s ownership of the Luxembourg holding company would mean that this holding company is blocked, and the Luxembourg holding company’s 50 percent in Helsinki Halli would result in Helsinki Halli being blocked as well. If Helsinki Halli is blocked, no U.S. person or company can be involved in events there. Whether or not Oy Långvik Capital is blocked is not clear, since we don’t know the ownership interests of Boris and Arkady Rotenberg in that company, but this does not matter if Helsinki Halli is blocked by virtue of Timchenko’s 50 percent stake.
So if Justin Timberlake sings a few songs at Hartwall he better hope that Live Nation is right and Roman Rotenberg is wrong about the ownership of the concert venue. Otherwise, he may be the next Dennis Rodman.