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Preston Robert Tisch, 79; Loews Chairman, on Forbes 400 List

November 17, 2005|From Bloomberg

Financier Preston Robert Tisch, chairman of the conglomerate Loews Corp. and co-owner of the New York Giants football team, died Tuesday of brain cancer at his home in New York City. He was 79.

Tisch was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer last year, the New York Giants said in a statement on the team's website.

New York City-based Loews owns insurer CNA Financial Corp.; Lorillard Tobacco Co., the oldest U.S. tobacco company; Loews Hotels; watchmaker Bulova Corp.; and Texas Gas Transmission LCC. The company also has a controlling stake in Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc.

Tisch became sole chairman of the company after his brother and business partner, Laurence, died in November 2003. Laurence Tisch's son James succeeded his father as president and chief executive officer of Loews in 1999. Robert Tisch's son Jonathan heads Loews Hotels and published "The Power of We: Succeeding Through Partnerships" in 2004.

Robert Tisch was ranked 56 on the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans list in 2005, up from 60 in 2004, with a fortune valued at $3.9 billion.

He was born on April 29, 1926, in Brooklyn, N.Y., son of Sayde and Abraham Tisch, a manufacturer of boys clothing. He attended Bucknell University before dropping out to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II. After his discharge, he received his bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Michigan.

Tisch and his father went into business together and Laurence joined them soon after.

The brothers ran a summer camp for children and bought a rundown hotel and fixed it up, in a move that defined their approach to business: They would identify an undervalued asset, snap it up, revamp it and sell off parts for profit.

In the 1950s, the Tisch brothers bought and developed hotels in New York, Atlantic City and other East Coast communities. In 1960 they acquired the Loews movie theater chain. They later sold the chain and kept the name.

The brothers then diversified, buying Lorillard Tobacco, which makes Kent and Newport cigarettes, and Chicago-based CNA, which gave them access to a ready source of capital from insurance policyholders. They also bought watchmaker Bulova and ventured into oil drilling through Diamond Offshore.

Tisch served as postmaster general of the U.S. from August 1986 until March 1988.

In the 1990s, he championed New York's position as a center for business and also chaired New York City Public Private Initiatives, a partnership program to fund community projects.

In February 1991, Tisch purchased a 50% stake in the New York Giants professional football franchise for $75 million and assumed the position of chairman and co-chief executive officer of the organization.

In addition to his son Jonathan, Tisch's survivors include Joan Hyman, his wife of more than 50 years, son Steven and daughter Laurie.

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