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Wealthiest People in Mortgage Lending

Forbes releases "400 Richest Americans"

September 27, 2004


The latest ranking of wealthy Americans has the mortgage industry sporting a few billionaires.

Forbes magazine recently released its 22nd annual listing of The 400 Richest Americans. While Bill Gates still holds the No. 1 spot with a net worth of $48 billion, several mortgage industry-linked individuals made the prestigious list of the fortunate few.

With a net worth of $2.3 billion, Forbes named Carl Pohlad the 92nd wealthiest man in the nation. The 89-year-old owner of the Minnesota Twins reportedly quit college to sell cars, then took over his brother-in-law's bank in 1955 -- which he turned into several businesses operating under the umbrella name "Marquette Financial Cos." and sold in 2001 to Wells Fargo for $1 billion. Pohlad's current investments include airline companies and Pepsi bottling. The Pohlad family privately owns NorthMarq Capital Inc., a national real estate investment banker that among other things provides commercial and multifamily mortgage financing.

Roland Arnall, founder of Ameriquest, filled slot No. 106 with his net worth of $2.0 billion. The 65-year-old Californian started the full-service mortgage banker in 1980 as Long Beach Savings & Loan. Other sources that have led to his first time on the list are his investments in oil and gas, insurance and real estate. Like many other wealthy individuals, Arnall is a longtime political donor, who recently contributed to Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign and is currently backing the Bush campaign. The businessman spends his downtime at his $46 million, 650-acre Aspen, Colo. compound, according to the magazine.

Another mortgage-linked individual on the list was William Pulte, whose worth of $1.2 billion earned him spot No. 234. Pulte built his first home at age 18 in 1950 and two years later founded Pulte Homes. The company went public in 1969 and has grown to be the nation's largest home builder, averaging 4.5 homes every hour. Stock for the parent company of Pulte Mortgage Corp went up 90% in the past year, Forbes said. The homebuilder made Fortune's most recent lists of the fastest-growing companies and largest 500 in the nation.

Also within the 400 richest individuals, were the three founders of Golden West Financial. Cofounder Bernard Osher, worth $960 million, placed 324. Apart from his stake in the thrift, his fortune also comes from Butterfield & Butterfield -- he took over the auctioneer in 1970 and sold it to Ebay five years ago for $260 million in stock. His sister, Marion Sandler, and her husband, Herbert Sandler, came in at No. 337 with a net worth of $920 million. They both oversee the San Francisco thrift, which concentrates on savings accounts and low-risk residential adjustable-rate mortgages. Instead of selling into the secondary market, Golden West holds loans in portfolio, backed by a 5-year annualized return of 26.6% -- best than any other bank, according to Forbes.

Worth $900 million, Bernard Francis Saul II filled slot 340. The 72-year-old founded real estate investment trust (REIT) B.F. Saul in 1964 and concentrated investment in regional shopping centers, office properties and mid-market hotels. In 1969, the University of Virginia law grad founded mortgage-lending Chevy Chase Bank out of a trailer near one of his shopping centers, Forbes said. The bank says it has grown more than 220 branches and into the largest bank in the Washington metropolitan area. In 1993, Saul made a second REIT public -- Saul Centers, the magazine added.

Joining Arnall as a newcomer to the list, was mortgage banker Victor Galan. Although the chief of R&G Financial made No. 369 on this list with his worth of $800 million, he is the richest U.S. citizen in Puerto Rico. The Cuban-born 71-year-old fled to Puerto Rico after Castro took power and opened the mortgage bank in 1972 with $25,000, Forbes reported. R&G Financial, which was also on Fortune's "fastest-growing" list, says it originates mortgages in Florida and had second quarter residential volume of about $2.5 billion.

Forbes said a minimum net worth of $750 million was required to incorporate the listing this year, up $25 million from a year ago. Combined, the net worth of the nation's wealthiest reportedly climbed to $1 trillion, up a whopping $45 billion from last year.

Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for MortgageDaily.com.

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