Billionaire Investor Kirk Kerkorian Dead At 98

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
billionaire investor kirk kerkorian dead at 98

Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian died Tuesday at the age of 98, leaving behind a legacy which included the automotive industry in his twilight years.

Aside from his numerous holdings in Las Vegas casinos — including MGM Resorts International — air charter businesses, and movie studios, Kerkorian held shares among all of the Detroit Three, Bloomberg reports.

Though he once sold one of his businesses to Studebaker — only to buy it back two years later — Kerkorian’s dealings in Detroit began in 1990, when he acquired nearly 10 percent of Chrysler’s stock after being impressed by then-chairman Lee Iacocca. Five years after, he and Iacocca were rebuffed by the automaker and its then-new chairman, Bob Eaton, when the duo sought to buy the remaining 90 percent of the automaker for $22.8 billion; Daimler AG would buy Chrysler three years later.

Though he initially supported the so-called “merger of equals” — his outside analysis helped lead the two companies down the aisle, Automotive News says — he sued DaimlerChrysler for $3 billion in damages in 2000 for misleading him with said merger. Kerkorian would ultimately lose his suit in 2005, his appeal of the federal trial verdict also proving unsuccessful.

Two years later, Kerkorian sought to buy Chrysler once more, offering $4.6 billion to Daimler before being outbid by Cerberus.

Around the same time of the Cerberus bid, he bought nearly 10 percent of General Motors shares, selling them back a year later after his patience ran out with the automaker’s management when he failed to convince then-CEO Rick Wagoner to join forces with Renault-Nissan. He also lost $600 million in 2008 selling his 6.5 percent stake in Ford — citing a lack of confidence the Blue Oval could turn its fortunes around — which he had purchased for over $1 billion in the same year.

[Photo credit: Greg Gjerdingen/ Flickr/ CC BY 2.0]

Join the conversation
4 of 37 comments
  • Alan I would think Ford would beef up the drive line considering the torque increase, horse power isn't a factor here. I looked at a Harrop supercharger for my vehicle. Harrop offered two stages of performance. The first was a paltry 100hp to the wheels (12 000AUD)and the second was 250hp to the wheels ($20 000 (engine didn't rev harder so torque was significantly increased)). The Stage One had no drive line changes, but the Stage Two had drive line modifications. My vehicle weighs roughly the same as a full size pickup and the 400'ish hp I have is sufficient, I had little use for another 100 let alone 250hp. I couldn't see much difference in the actual supercharger setup other than a ratio change for the drive of the supercharger, so that extra $8 000 went into the drive line.
  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 ( Bronze or Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??
  • ToolGuy Last picture: Labeling the accelerator as "play" and the brake pedal as "pause" might be cute, but it feels wrong. It feels wrong because it is wrong, and it is wrong because Calculus.Sidebar: I have some in-laws who engage the accelerator and brake on a binary on/off all-in basis. So annoying as a passenger.Drive smoothly out there. 🙂
  • Johnny ringo It's an interesting vehicle, I'd like to see VW offer the two row Buzz in the states also.
  • Chuck Norton And guys are having wide spread issues with the 10 speed transmission with the HP numbers out of the factory......