Haute 100 Los Angeles Update: Ronald Burkle

Our Haute 100 list details the accomplishments of the most influential people in each of our markets— These people continue to make moves, so rather than waiting for the next Haute 100 issue to come out, we thought we’d provide you with regular updates on those Haute 100 members who are making headlines. Business tycoon Ronald Burkle is busy adding to his estimated worth of $3.2 billion with acquisitions in the media, technology, and food industries around the globe.

Ronald Burkle
Category: Billionaires
Company: Yucaipa Companies
Industry: Investments/Supermarkets

What Made Him Haute: He made his fortune buying and selling supermarket chains, including Wild Oats, which was recently bought by Whole Foods for a hefty half-billion-dollar sum. His private equity firm, Yucaipa Cos., invests in retail, manufacturing, and distribution.

What Makes Him Haute Now: Ron Burkle got his start as a bag boy for his father’s grocery store and turned his supermarket savvy into a lucrative business. How lucrative? Burkle’s private company, Yucaipa Cos., completed more than $40 billion in deals over the past 20 years. With stakes in companies such as Barneys New York and Whole Foods, Burkle knows promising investments in undervalued companies. He became the second-largest individual stakeholder in American Apparel in June after buying 4.3 million shares for $5.9 million, giving him a 6 percent stake in the retailer. Yucaipa increased investments in China’s Xinhua Finance Media in February.

Burkle’s recent interests in buying Disney’s Miramax Films division, Philadelphia Newspapers, L.L.C., and the Pittsburgh Pirates may have dwindled, but Burkle’s stake-building is stronger than ever. Currently wrapping up trial, Yucaipa sued Barnes & Noble after the bookseller’s board put up a poison-pill defense against further acquisition. Already the bookseller’s largest outside shareholder, Burkle is fighting to raise his shares from 19 percent to 35 percent. Frequenting the pages of New York Post’s “Page Six,” Burkle counts Bill Clinton in his circle of close friends. Burkle is one of the Democratic Party’s top contributors and heavily involved in donating millions of dollars of his fortune to charities. He also acts as co-owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, and sits on numerous boards across the country.

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