A salty-tongued investor nearing age 80, Chicago-based Sam Zell joins an elite flock of billionaires looking to snatch up distressed oil and gas assets and buy “the right” energy stocks at fire-sale prices. In a recent interview on CNBC, Zell proclaimed the time was ideal to both shop and invest in oil and gas in this era of industry over-leverage, painfully low commodity prices, yawning interest from the private equity world and—yes—the economic fallout from the Caronavirus.
Opportunistic? Of course. A potential lifesaver for well-managed companies that need some fresh coin to right themselves? You be the judge. But Zell and his investor peers Warren Buffet, Carl Icahn and Jerry Jones are betting that the energy sector will be one of the big winners this year.
Known primarily for his prowess in real estate (he’s been called that industry’s founding father of investments), Zell is an unapologetic bargain hunter, which has earned him a comfortable living that started even before he graduated from college with a law degree. He worked for an attorney one week, decided he hated it, and returned to investing in apartment buildings. Founding Equity Group Investments in 1968, Zell, now worth $5.6 billion, is an oft-quoted business philosopher famous for sayings like, “When everyone is going left, look right.” Forbes Magazine has dubbed him one of the “100 Greatest Living Business Minds.” Zell’s Alpine Energy Capital includes upstream and midstream assets in the Lower 48 and maintains an active drilling and development program near Giddings, Texas.
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