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THE SALE OF AMERICAN SAVINGS : The Buyer, the Sellers . . . : Robert M. Bass--Texan With a Low Profile

Robert M. Bass, the man who wants to buy American Savings & Loan, is a baby-faced Texas tycoon who comes from one of America’s richest families.

Not a great deal is known about the 40-year-old Bass, and that’s the way he likes it. He does not grant interviews nor does he like to read his name in the newspaper.

Bass is part of a clan of four brothers from Ft. Worth who inherited the seeds of their present fortune almost 30 years ago from a bachelor great-uncle. That relative was wildcatter Sid Richardson, who along with his nephew, Perry Bass, discovered a giant oil field in West Texas 49 years ago.

When Perry’s first son was born April 9, 1942, he named him Sid Richardson Bass. Robert Muse Bass, the third son, was born nearly six years later. Both would attend the best schools (Andover, Yale, Stanford) and turn their energies into producing a mega-fortune.

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Their multimillion-dollar inheritances from Sid Richardson multiplied many times as the family invested in companies such as Texaco, Union Carbide and Walt Disney Productions. The Bass family fortune is believed to be worth at least $4 billion today.

While his older brother’s enthusiasm for making money has dimmed in recent times, Robert struck out on his own. He formed his own firm a few years ago and has slowly been emerging from Sid’s shadow ever since.

Robert Bass has had little negative written about him, though he makes no effort to generate a favorable image in the press. He has explained that he does not give interviews because he has nothing to sell directly to the public.

Whether his profile will change with the purchase of American Savings remains to be seen. Bass did take an active role in the final negotiations when it looked as though talks would collapse.

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Bass is a soft-spoken type with a gentlemanly mien that wears well in Ft. Worth, where he is known for his involvement in transportation and development causes. Bass’ business associates enjoy working for Bass because he gives them a financial stake in his deals.

One recent notable Robert Bass deal was his partnership with a Japanese company that bought the Westin hotel chain for $1.35 billion. A few months later, the new owners turned around and sold the company’s crown jewel, the Plaza hotel in New York, for $390 million to developer Donald J. Trump.


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