Magazine article Newsweek

Billionaires in the Sun

Magazine article Newsweek

Billionaires in the Sun

Article excerpt

Hot topics at an annual media-mogul confab

NO ONE KNOWS WHERE THE RUMOR began, but it couldn't be dismissed out of hand. At least not by the gold-plated crowd gathered in Sun Valley last week for dealmaker Herbert Allen's now famous media and communications mogulfest. With at least 18 U.S. billionaires in attendance, plus managers of $8 trillion in institutional funds. almost any deal could have happened. So the rumor-that Disney was poised to buy Sun Valley itself-was reported on CNBC, Not so. Joked a Disney executive: "What the rumor didn't say was that we are buying all of the media companies represented here and moving their headquarters here."

Might as well. The 16th annual Allen gathering sometimes seemed like a Disney movie featuring billionaires frolicking under a brilliant sun. Michael Eisner, Rupert Murdoch, Sumner Redstone, Bill Gates and the rest of the owners of large swaths of media new and old met to play in public and talk business in private. "There is a bit of everything represented here," says Allen, whose Allen & Co. picked up the entire tab, estimated to be more than $1 million. The hot topic: the increasingly fluid and converging world of entertainment, communications and technology, as epitomized by AT&T's proposed $48 billion purchase of Tele-Communications Inc.

The order of the day included little heavy lifting. Mornings were reserved for official-and closed, at least to pesky reporters-presentations by the likes of America Online, Comcast and Disney. …

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