The Wizard of Oz oilman with a genius for turning catastrophe into billions – MoneyWeek

Adevout,right-wingChristian,Anschutzmadehisfirstbillionfromoil,butmovedintorailroadsandtelecomsbeforehittingtheentertainmentindustryin2000。

Henowownsorhasinterestsinaround100companies–anempirethatstraddlessports,energy,telecoms,railwaysandfilm。

PhilipAnschutzis“liketheWizardofOz”,alocaleconomisttoldTheLATimes。

Heis“themanbehindthecurtainpullingthelevers”。

Nobodyseeshim,yethehasahugeimpactinLosAngelesandbeyond?

Bornin1939inHays,Kansas,Anschutzshowed“entrepreneurialflair”attheageofninewhenhesetupadrinksstandonrollerskatestoservelocalstudents,saysTheTimes。

AftertakingabusinessdegreefromtheUniversityofKansas,hefollowedinhisfather’sfootsteps,inheritingandexpandinganoil-drillingbusiness。

In1967oneofhiswellsinWyomingstruckabigoilfind。

Sensinganopportunity,heracedaroundtown,buyingoilleasesoncreditbeforewordgotout。

Butbeforehecouldcelebrate,thefieldcaughtfire。

Inanepisodewhichdemonstratedhisskillforlateralthinking,hehiredRedAdair,thefamedoil-fighter,toputoutthefire,andstrucka$100,000dealwithUniversalStudios,whichwasmakingafilmaboutAdair’slife,toallowthemtofilmhiminaction。

ThefeeallowedhimtopayforboththeleasesandAdair?

Thefieldmademillions,buthisfirstbillioncameadecadelater,withthediscoveryofamassiveoilandgasreserveonAnschutzRanchEast。

In1982,justbeforeoilpricescrashed,hesoldahalf-interestinittoMobilOilfor$500m。

ThedealmadeAnschutz,at42,theyoungestbillionaireontheForbeslist。

HemadehisnextbillionbyacquiringthetinyRioGrandeRailroadasthebackendofanoildealin1984,thenin1988usingitascollateralinabuyoutoftheSouthernPacificRailroad。

In1996henegotiateda$5。

4bnmergerofthiswithUnionPacific,thusparlayinghis$90minvestmentinRioGrandeintoa$1。

2bnstakeinthenation’sbiggestrailroad。

Buthisrealgeniuslaynotinbuyingtherailways,butinhisdecisiontolay18,000milesofoptic-fibrenetworkbeneathhistrackstocreatethegianttelecomsnetwork,QwestCommunications。

Themergeritselfwasdubbedaspectacular“fiasco”byTheNewYorkTimes,creatingasitdid“giganticfreight-carbottlenecks”。

Itwas,however,“spectacularlylucrative”forAnschutz:Qwestwentontomakehimbillions?

PhilipAnschutz:themanbehindthecurtain?

ThosewhoknowAnschutzsaythathisobsessionwithprivacystemsfromshynessandadesireforhisfamilytoliveanormalliferatherthanfromsomestrangeHowardHughes-stylereclusiveness。

Hehashadto“payhandsomely”tostayoutofthelimelight,saysGlenBuntingintheLATimes。

Accordingtocourtrecords,Anschutzandhisfirmshavestumpeduplargecashsettlements–nearlyallofthemconfidential–tocompaniesthat“claimedtheyweredeniedtheirfairshareoftheprofitsorvictimisedbydeceptivebusinesspractices”?

Anschutz’sdesireforinvisibilityshouldnotbeconfusedwithadesirenottoinfluence。

HeisadonortotheRepublicanpartyandhasfundedvariousreligiousandright-wingoutfits,includingtheColoradoforFamilyValues,anovertlyanti-gayorganisation,andtheDiscoveryInstitute,a‘think-tank’whichpromotescreationism。

Hewasalsoranked33onBusinessWeek’slistofmostgenerousphilanthropistsin2004,havinggivenanestimated$450mtocharity。

Butitisthroughmovie-makingthatAnschutzhopestoreachhiswidestaudience。

“MycompetitorsthinkI’mnaiveorstupidorboth。

Butyouknowwhat?

Idon’tcare。

Ifwecanmakesomemoviesthathaveapositiveeffectonpeople’slivesandonourculture,that’senoughforme。

”Still,topretendAnschutzdoesn’tworryaboutthebottomlinewouldbenaive:heexcelsindrivingahardbargain。

“PhilwouldrankupthereinmyhumourlessHallofFame,”saidBobScanlan,abankerwhohasworkedwithhim。

“Heisjustfocusedbeyondbelief。



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