Steven Ferencz Udvar-Hazy
Net Worth: $1.4 billion
Source of Wealth: Aircraft leasing
Residence: Beverly Hills
Steven Ferencz Udvar-Hazy was still a student at UCLA when he launched an aircraft brokerage business. But it was International Lease Finance Corp., a Century City-based aircraft-leasing firm that he formed with friend Louis Gonda in 1973, that made Udvar-Hazy rich. Very rich.
Gonda, now a movie producer, his father Leslie Gonda, and the Budapest-born Udvar-Hazy each pitched in $50,000 to start the company, which has since become the largest lessor of commercial jets in the world. It grew in the 1980s as the airline industry was deregulating.
International Lease Finance went public in 1983, and was acquired by American International Group Inc. seven years later.
Last September, the company ordered 135 commercial airliners from Boeing Co. and European aircraft consortium Airbus Industrie at a cost of about $6.7 billion. The transaction made International Lease Finance Airbus’ largest single customer.
“It’s been an exciting year, with the airline industry being in fairly good fiscal health, and all the excitement going on in Asia and the new currency coming into Europe,” Udvar-Hazy said, adding that the company will be taking delivery of 61 new jets this year. “We’re busier than ever.”
A father of four and a certified pilot, he is known as a shrewd negotiator often flying around the world to cut deals in a company-owned Gulfstream IV.