SOROS AND ME PART V – HOW BILLIONAIRES THINK
Alex S. Gabor's fifth installment on his favorite topic, George Soros where he announces that some of the Billionaires For Bush are supporting the making of his film documentary, "Soros and Me!"
One thing George Soros and I have in common; neither of us worries much about what other people think of us, except when it comes to an injustice that tarnishes our reputations.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad blamed the Hungarian-American billionaire, who I like to call Uncle George because I adopted him publicly last February when I started this global column and launched preproduction planning for the docudrama "Soros and Me!", for destroying Malaysia's economy with massive currency speculation.
That of course gave Soros immense publicity worth billions all in itself, even though Soros didn't actually cause those currencies to collapse any more than he caused the British Pound to plummet when he made a billion dollars in one day betting in advance that it would.
When Soros put millions in hard money behind various political organizations in America he was attacked with thousands of lies, innuendos, and critical writings from as many political tongue and lip flappers.
This of course gave him more billions in free global publicity instantly that has lasted for years. The Senate recently passed a Bill prohibiting anyone from donating any more than $25,000 to any 527 Organization, just in time for the 2006 election.
A strong track record of wracking up billions in currency profits and publicity stunts certainly fits into the arsenal of any man who has the will and means to change the world. Yet you would be very surprised to know how many people still have not heard of George Soros.
Particularly where I live in Hollywood, even though he is set to close on the purchase of the DreamWorks SKG library of 59 films being purchased from Paramount through his Soros Fund Management later this month.
Giving money to political causes, even when they are out of favor with the mainstream, is surely one way to get lots of public media exposure, even if it is backwashed jabberwockish dribble from jealous pundits who get paid for it.
From that standpoint, hundreds of millions of people have heard of Soros as a result. A smart investment, even if all he got physically was a t-shirt out of it.
Recently, George Soros' Japanese hotel chain said it acquired two resort properties with a combined 500 rooms on the Okinawa island chain from GMAC, the finance unit of General Motors Corp., the world's largest carmaker.
GM has been trying to sell off its finance unit for months and has found no takers who could afford it, yet. Ishin Hotels Group, a joint venture of my favorite Uncle George Soros and the privately held U.S. hotel operator Westmont Hospitality Group, took over Renaissance Okinawa Resort and Coco Garden Resort Okinawa on March 28, 2006.
The purchase price wasn't made public, but we can venture that because of the asking price prior to the sale it was somewhere in the 10 billion Yen range. Around $85 million in U.S. Currency terms.
Soros has announced publicly on more than one occasion that he has been short the dollar, and it looks like he is also in the process of shorting some of his U.S. based assets, while picking up others that have medium term appreciation value, such as the film library which comes with an option to sell it back to Paramount in five years! At what price is not known, but if he fetches 20% a year, he would be selling it back for $1.8 billion, a $900 million profit, less his attorney and closing costs.
Soros, along with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Lone Star Funds have acquired Japanese golf and other resorts in Japan, betting they can improve management and returns as the world's second-biggest economy recovers from three recessions since 1990.
His other major holding in Asia, a 14% stake in Hainan Airlines parallels a similar stake in Jet Blue Airways stateside. Hainan has become the fourth largest airline in China.
Uncle George must be thinking he will soon be able to put hundreds of thousands of business people on his airlines and fly them to Asia for more business dealings than ever before as China and many other Asian nations' political and business leaders, who once condemned him over a decade ago, gradually open up to his investment style, if not his business philosophies.
He was certainly thinking that he had to put them up someplace so why not buy a hotel or two at depressed prices and turn them around with customers flocking to make money in Asia, since the United States economy, particularly the real estate market there is tanking as the Fed keeps on raising rates for the foreseeable next two quarters, obviously an attempt to prop up the falling dollar.
Coco Garden Resort with 102 rooms and Renaissance Okinawa with 392 rooms, both about 16 years old and located on the main Okinawa island, offer private beaches and hot springs. Room rates range from 15,000 yen to 120,000 yen a day. That's $125 to $1,000 a day to you Yankees out there reading this.
Yet with all his money, poor billionaire uncle George Soros has so far failed to erase the only legal blemish on an otherwise long successful honest financial career last week, when a French appeals court upheld his three-year-old conviction for insider trading, which was based on hearsay evidence.
Rejecting Soros' bid to clear his name, the Paris Court of Appeals maintained the guilty verdict and a 2.2 million euros (3 million dollars) fine handed down by a lower court, allegedly the same amount that one of his organizations made buying and selling Societe Generale shares in 1988 after receiving information about a planned corporate raid on the bank.
Unfortunately what is being touted by his enemies as insider information was broad public knowledge to many investors, including his investment managers who have all but abandoned the employ of Soros, but who seek to shift the blame on him.
Typical of poor jealous bastards who don't know how to really make their own money but live off the talent and power of people like George Soros, and seek to drag them into their own mud when their own lies spin them adrift.
Attorneys for Soros, who didn't waste their client's time and money attempting to defend against the lies, were not at the final hearing, but instead immediately announced that the Hungarian-born businessman planned to appeal to the Cour de Cassation, France's Supreme Court.
His spokesman in New York, Michael Vachon, said Soros remained "confident that ultimately he'll be vindicated."
Michael thinks that it is absurd of me to be writing a column focused on Soros, but personally, I think it's a great idea. What other way to educate the world about a man whose life has paralleled my own, only on a different plane and dimension, and to share what I have learned in the process of the experience of following him around for the past 13 years.
Some of my critics have said I am obsessed with Soros, now 75, who had previously acknowledged that he was told about a Paris financier's plans to take over Societe Generale in late 1988 and began independently acquiring shares in the bank just days later.
It took the French Government over a decade to bring the case against him. Soros has honestly denied that knowledge of the raid had amounted to insider information or influenced his transactions, which he said were part of a broader, documented strategy of investing in newly privatized French companies at the time.
It will be Soros' own documents versus the French Government persecutors that will ultimately be upheld as the true documentation.
Rejecting his appeal, presiding judge Odile Faivre and her two colleagues ruled that Soros had been in possession of information that was "precise, confidential and of the kind that was likely to influence the share price" of Societe Generale when he bought the stock.
What the female judge doesn't seem to understand is that whenever a billionaire or large money manager buys a stock, it generally will influence the price of a stock, simply under the natural rule of increased demand, so the arguments' mootness seems to have been overlooked by the process of French Justice.
How can we expect a salaried judge to understand what happens when you are charged with the fiduciary responsibility of managing hundreds of millions of dollars on a single investment. The perception is just not there, let alone the understanding.
At that time, they said, "the only information known to the market concerned the fact that privatized companies in general were probably undervalued."
Soros, who emigrated to the United States in 1956, the same year I was born in Budapest, set up Soros Fund Management 17 years later, now has an estimated net worth of $7.7 billion according to Forbes Magazine which keeps track of the worlds billionaires and their fortunes.
Aside from his own money which he places with his two dozen or more fund managers on any given day, another $9 billion of other people's money is estimated to be under management by Soros Fund Management which he heads up and is headquartered in New York but is run mostly by his two sons.
Other than the insider dealing case, Soros has never been accused of any crime, Vachon said. At his Feb. 10 appeal hearing, Soros told the court that his insider trading conviction had been a "gift to my enemies" in the United States and elsewhere. "My reputation is at stake," he said.
During the hearing last month, Soros' attorney Ron Soffer quoted from a 1989 report in which France's stock market watchdog, then known as the COB. told prosecutors it was not able to conclude that Soros had committed any offense. "I'm very surprised that even though the COB said no law was broken, the appeals court confirmed the decision," Soffer is quoted as saying to the media.
On other international fronts Uncle Soros and his Open Society Institute are being publicly attacked in the Baltic region with viscous lies about his motives there.
To that extent, I share a commonality in that many lies about me have also been spread on the Internet, through message boards, emails, and even in the Courts.
One thing is certain, both of us have major missions, and though Soros is much further along on his than I, there is still a small flame of kindling burning in my heart for a decade and a half old vision that I have been questioning for some time as to its validity due to its inducement while under the influence of marijuana. Does a vision which comes from being stoned reduce the validity of a vision?
The only problem I have today is no large amounts of currency with which to fund that vision now that I am clean and sober for the past 20 months. Yet somehow the vision is still there, and I will share that vision in my docudrama which several members of the Billionaires For Bush have agreed to become a part of, both in New York and Los Angeles.
Most unfortunately hard core Russian nationalists have recently decried as "meddling" the Soros organizations' backed funding of progressive newspapers and institutions in post-Soviet Russia. What most people do not know is how Uncle George helped bring down the Iron Curtain that Ronald Reagan asked Mr. Gorbachov to tear down almost two decades ago.
Now, it's an old prickly global cause, international drug policy, that has some folks taking aim at my hard-nosed Uncle George, the billionaire financier and controversial philanthropist.
But any more on that issue I will leave for my next installment of Soros and Me! Part VI.
© 2006 By Alex S. Gabor Syndicate. All World Rights Reserved. Republished with permission.
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