Perot's assets put at hundreds of millions

May 20, 1992|By Paul West | Paul West,Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON -- No wonder Ross Perot would like to be president of the United States. He already seems to own much of it.

In a financial disclosure report he filed with the Federal Election Commission, the Texas billionaire lists bond holdings in 44 states worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

And those holdings represent only a portion of his total wealth.

Mr. Perot's public accounting of his assets, required of all candidates for federal office, was completed last Thursday and released yesterday.

It runs a total of 123 pages and is the most voluminous such filing since the current disclosure system took effect in the 1970s. Despite its extraordinary length, the document only hints at the extent of Mr. Perot's financial empire, much of which remains hidden in family trusts and other investment vehicles.

But even this limited disclosure portrays a personal fortune that, by any yardstick, can only be described as staggering. How else to describe someone whose interest on his checking account (actually one of three checking accounts) was between $100,000 and $1 million last year?

A Perot spokesman recently put the would-be candidate's net worth at $3.3 billion, and there is nothing in his filing to contradict that.

The computer magnate, who is threatening to bankroll a presidential campaign that could cost more than $100 million, reported income last year of at least $30 million and possibly well in excess of $140 million. Because of the limitations in the reporting form, it is not possible even to estimate his actual income (the highest amount on the form for each category of income is "over $1 million," whether that amount is $1.1 million or $1.1 billion).

Mr. Perot did not report receiving an annual salary as chairman of Perot Systems Corp., the privately held company he founded in 1988. He did, however, list $690,886 in "flight revenue" from Hill Air Corp., a Dallas company in which he lists his position as "director."

In all, Mr. Perot reported owning 337 separate assets worth at least $1,000. Most of these, at least 174, he valued in excess of $1 million.

These million-plus holdings were mostly in bonds issued by municipalities, states and other government entities from the north slope of Alaska to Orange County, Fla. (Two million-plus holdings were listed as Maryland "transit" bonds and Mary

land "health" bonds, plus some Baltimore County bonds he apparently sold within the last year).

His investments in U.S. Treasury bills, notes and bonds yielded more than $1 million in interest last year. How much more is unknowable. Mr. Perot did not disclose precisely which bonds he owns, their rate of return or when they were acquired.

His real estate holdings, either alone or in partnerships, encompass more than 19,000 acres in at least four states, much of it in Texas. At least 36 separate properties are worth "over $1 million." His oil and gas investments generated $2,440,066 in income last year.

His corporate investments run from Abbott Labs commercial paper to Wavertracer computer systems preferred stock. There are blue chips like AT&T and IBM (his first employer after leaving the Navy) and high-risk ventures like the R. H. Macy Co. buyout. No details are provided of his additional holdings in five "brokerage accounts" worth more than $1 million each.

Mr. Perot's diversified portfolio includes an array of riskier investments. He lists more than $1 million in Standard and Poor's 500 Index options and at least two million-dollar-plus holdings in Nikkei index options, which suggests he may be gambling on both the direction of the high-flying New York Stock Exchange and Japan's depressed stock market.

He has a share in three partnerships which provide start-up capital for emerging companies. These ventures had a total value of $59.4 million at the end of last year, according to the Perot report.

He lists relatively few debts -- 26 -- with all but two in excess of $1 million. Most were made within the past year, to finance foreign currency transactions and common stock purchases. Terms of the loans were not disclosed.

The report indicates that some present or former employees have put the arm on Mr. Perot. He lists unspecified "employees notes receivables" worth more than $1 million -- and interest payments from those same employees totaling $100,000 to $1 million last year.

He also made an unspecified real estate loan to his son, Ross Perot Jr., worth more than $1 million. The son, currently attempting to build a private airport in north Texas with federal government help, paid his father between $100,000 and $1 million in interest last year.

Although he has not formally announced his candidacy, Mr. Perot is bankrolling efforts to put his name on the ballot this November in all 50 states. In a cover note to his financial disclosure report, Mr. Perot acknowledged that, under federal campaign laws, he "may be deemed to fall within the technical definition of a 'candidate.' "

In the box marked "Position for which filing," Mr. Perot wrote: "President."

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