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Ron Perelman

Ron Perelman, one of the wealthiest men in America, sits down for his first ever Q&A.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Ron Perelman, Spring 95

The story of Perelman's rise to the top of the corporate world parallels the extraordinary economic expansion of the 1980s. He built his fortune by buying and building companies, unlike corporate raiders who merely bought and sold companies during that period.

Perleman's holding company, MacAndrews & Forbes, has a portfolio that includes Revlon (comestics and personal-care products), Marvel Entertainment (youth marketing, including Toy Biz, Fleer trading cards and Marvel comic books), the Coleman Company (outdoor recreation equipment), New World Communications Group (television broadcasting, production and distribution), Mafco Worldwide (flavors), Meridian Sports (water sports, including Boston Whaler boats), First Nationwide Bank (multistate banking), National Health Laboratories (clinical diagnostic-testing laboratories) and Consolidated Cigar Corporation (cigars).

Today, Perelman's efforts are focused on building a television-broadcasting empire. He is mentioned in the same breath as Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner and Time Warner. Because of Murdoch's $500 million investment in Perelman's television stations, which are now affiliated with Murdoch's Fox Network, Perelman is even seen as a potential competitor against the big three networks: NBC, ABC and CBS. At the same time, he has used his investment in Marvel Entertainment to build a portfolio of marketable "action characters" similar to the Walt Disney Company model of animated characters.

Throughout this extraordinary period of success, Perelman has remained one of the least-known businessmen in the country. He has frequently been photographed at society events (holding an ever present cigar), but has never before given a one-on-one, question-and-answer interview.

In this wide-ranging session with Cigar Aficionado Editor and Publisher Marvin R. Shanken, Perelman discusses his love of cigars and his investment in Consolidated Cigar Corporation, as well as how he has built his business. He shares his own major disappointment, the acquisition that got away--Gillette. Perelman also talks for the first time about his relationship with investment banker Michael Milken and about his firm belief that there's nothing wrong with making money.

Perelman: This is my first interview.

Shanken: Ever?

Perelman: Yes.

Shanken: In New York magazine it said you rarely give interviews.

Perelman: This is the first one. I've given background before, but never a Q&A.

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