He's the $6.2 billion man perhaps soon to be the $9 billion man.
And he isn't a movie star, studio mogul or computer guru. To the average Angeleno, in fact, the name barely registers if at all.
But never mind that. In a year of frantic deal making, Gary Winnick has turned himself into the richest man in Los Angeles, at least on paper and it's all due to the spectacular success of his start-up company, Global Crossing Ltd.
In less than three years, Winnick has taken a barely hatched idea of laying single fiber-optic cable across the Atlantic Ocean and spun it into one of the world's fastest-growing telecommunications companies. In the process, he has made himself, his partners and a variety of investors very wealthy indeed.
"It was one hell of a deal," said Michael Steed, senior vice president for investments at Union Labor Life Insurance Co., a Washington, D.C.-based investment firm that manages money for labor unions. Ullico's $7.6 million early-stage investment in Global Crossing is now worth more than $2 billion.
The scope of Global Crossing's financial success is reflected in the fact that four of its directors Winnick, David Lee, Barry Porter and Abbott Brown are among the Business Journal's 50 richest Angelenos.
The latter three appear on the list for the first time (and their names are even less recognizable than Winnick's). All were partners at Winnick's Pacific Capital Group prior to the founding of Global Crossing.
In the words of Lodwrick Cook, former chairman of Atlantic Richfield Co. and current co-chairman of Global Crossing, "Every day I say, 'God bless America and God bless Gary Winnick.' "
Cook has reason to be effusive; his 1 percent equity stake is worth roughly $240 million.
The wealth creation has not stopped at the boardroom. All Global Crossing's employees, from the mailroom on up, were given options ahead of the initial public offering last August. A number of secretaries are paper millionaires. Winnick even gave options to his housekeeper and rabbi.
Winnick is not only L.A.'s richest resident, he is one of the dozen wealthiest people in the United States (in the same league as Sumner Redstone, Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner). And his net worth will likely climb following the recently announced merger between Global Crossing and US West Inc. That deal, on the heels of an earlier merger with Frontier Co., is expected to boost Global Crossing's market capitalization to around $70 billion.
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