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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

(continued from page 10)

Shanken: And how did it come about that you then acquired the production business of Brandon Tartikoff?

Perelman: I thought that he was a known talent--he is a brilliant TV programmer. He had left two corporate positions--one at NBC and one at Paramount--to set up his own entrepreneurial company. We came along at a crucial point for him when he was at a crossroads of whether to continue his own business or affiliate with a larger company. It was a perfect marriage of facilities and talent. And he's a fabulous guy.

Shanken: Of course there's the Marvel Comics situation, too. I can't imagine that when you bought Marvel you had any idea what a score that was going to be.

Perelman: That's correct.

Shanken: Having said that, you now have those comic-book characters who are available to you in terms of producing movies and other programming. You almost could be a mini-Disney.

Perelman: Right. It is a mini-Disney in terms of intellectual property. We are a developer of characters just as Disney is. Disney 's got much more highly recognized characters and "softer" characters, whereas our characters are termed as action heroes. But at Marvel we are now in the creation and marketing of characters. The comic-book business--which was 95 percent of the business when we bought Marvel--today represents about 15 percent of the business.

Shanken: There was a significant piece in The Wall Street Journal four years ago where you were labeled a corporate raider. But it has really come down to the fact that you are a business builder, which is far different from a raider. You started in business with your father many years ago. Do you feel that the experiences with your father were in large part your MBA program?

Perelman: My experiences and education in working with and for my father were probably the most valuable that I've done and certainly at least as valuable, if not more so, than an actual MBA that I got in 1966. We had a unique working relationship. He allowed me--even forced me--to take on responsibility and authority at a very young age, far beyond what I thought was my capacity. So that very early on I got a lot of experience in dealing in the operations of businesses. And I grew up operating businesses. I left the family business in 1979 over an issue that I really wanted to start out on my own. It caused some tension initially, which we subsequently removed. But my experiences and education in working at the family business were absolutely critical in the development of my capacity.

Shanken: Your father is alive today?

Perelman: Yes.

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