Ted Arison, an American Israeli businessman whom Forbes magazine called one of the richest men in the world, died of cardiac arrest Friday, a spokeswoman said. He was 75.
Arison, who had been battling cancer for several years, died at his Tel Aviv home, said Miri Stern of the Gittim public relations firm, which represents the family.
Arison made his fortune in the cruise line business in the United States and had vast business interests in Israel.
Born in Zichron-Yaacov, Israel, the son of a shipping company owner, Arison entered the American University of Beirut at age 16 to study engineering. But he broke off his studies and joined the British army during World War II. He served in Italy and Germany, rising to the rank of sergeant major.
After the war, his father died, and Arison took over the family business, M. Dizengoff and Co., which owns ships and acts as general agents for several shipping lines.
In 1948 he was back in uniform serving as an officer in the Israeli army during the first Arab-Israeli war.
In the early 1950s he liquidated his operations in Israel and moved to the United States. For the next 12 years he embarked on a number of air cargo ventures.
In 1972, he acquired his first passenger ship and founded what has become a highly successful business: Carnival Cruise Lines. By the time Arison retired in 1990, the company had become a three-brand line, Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Lines and Windstar Cruises, operating 15 ships.
He was one of the original partners in the Miami Heat basketball team when it won a National Basketball Assn. franchise in April 1987. His son Mickey now owns the team.
In 1992, Ted Arison made the Forbes list of 100 richest people with an estimated wealth of $2.8 billion, but he had been dividing his wealth among family members and did not make the list in recent years.
In 1990 Arison reclaimed his Israeli citizenship, mainly because the country has no estate taxes. He established Arison Investments, buying and setting up companies in high-tech industry, communications, construction and real estate. In 1997 he bought a controlling share in Israel’s biggest bank, Bank Hapoalin, for $1.1 billion.
He established a charitable foundation that donated extensively to research, medical, educational and cultural causes.
Arison is survived by his wife, daughter and son. Israeli media said funeral arrangements would be announced Sunday.