Monday, July 14, 2008

American Owned- I Think Not!

The Plaza Hotel

This National Historic Landmark near Central Park in New York City, where fictional Eloise lived, has passed through many hands over the years, including Hilton's and Trump's. After Donald Trump's divorce from wife Ivana, who was the Plaza's president, Donald sold the hotel for $325 million in 1995 to a partnership between Saudi Prince Al-Walid and Singapore-owned Millennium & Copthorne Hotels. Now it's owned by Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva's El-Ad Group.


Beer drinkers were shocked when Belgian beer juggernaut InBev put the moves on Anheuser-Busch, which initially tried to fend off the bid. However, on July 14 it was announced InBev would buy its rival for $52 billion. The deal sees control over America's largest brewer move overseas.

The Flatiron Building

Located in Manhattan, Daniel Burnham's 1902 Flatiron Building has been a National Historic Landmark since 1989. According to Wikipedia, it is shown in the opening credits of 'The Late Show With David Letterman,' and was used as the Daily Bugle building in the 'Spider-Man' films. It is a popular spot for tourist photographs. Italian real estate investor Valter Mainetti, who likes to collect trophy properties, bought a share of the Flatiron in 2006, then recently brought his share up to 53%.

The Chrysler Building

Many New Yorkers consider the Chrysler Building the prettiest in the city. Briefly the world’s tallest building, this 1928 Art Deco gem has gargoyles designed for its original tenant, the Chrysler Corporation. Cooper Union, a private college, owns the land and leases it out. In the 1950s Chrysler lost control of the building. TMW, the German arm of an Atlanta fund, bought most of the lease in 2001.
Now the Abu Dhabi Investment Council controls 75%

Caribou Coffee &
Church's Chicken

A Minneapolis couple thought up Caribou Coffee on their honeymoon trip out west. They opened their first shop in 1992. Six years later they sold out to the predecessor of Arcapita, which is backed by the Bahrain-based First Islamic Investment Bank. Arcapita, which conforms to Sharia Law, also owns Church's Chicken.


The Southland Ice Company started selling food at off hours to customers in 1927. By 1946 -- long before the concept of 24/7 -- the company changed the store name to 7-Eleven to advertise its long hours. The founder tried to buy out the company but got caught in the market crash of 1987. His largest franchisee, Japan's Ito-Yokado, got equity and now its parent, Seven and I, own 7-Eleven.

Holiday Inn

A Memphis family driving to D.C. was appalled by local motels, so the father, Kemmons Wilson, already an entrepreneur and builder, vowed to start his own chain. He opened the first Holiday Inn -- named after the Bing Crosby movie -- in 1952. The green neon signs sprang up around the country, luring weary travelers with the promise of consistent quality. He retired 27 years later and then the firm was bought by Brits from Bass (as in the beer), a company that later morphed into InterContinental Hotels Group.

Dial Soap

Armour, the Chicago meatpacking company, sold, canned and used the byproduct tallow to make soap. When they added a germicide in 1948, Armour branded the soap Dial because you could wear it for 24 hours -- or around the dial. The company went through many corporate machinations, was owned by Greyhound for a while, and in 2004 the Dial Corporation was bought by conglomerate Henkel KGaA, based in Dusseldorf, Germany.


It's hard to imagine a Dutch company called Koninklijke Nederlandsche Petroleum Maatschappij becoming a household name in the U.S., so call it by its nickname: Shell, or the more formal Royal Dutch Shell. The Shell nickname comes from a British trading company that specialized in Asian shells in the 1830s, then turned to oil. The Royal Dutch part comes from an oil company started in 1890 and merged with Shell in 1907.


The one thing consistent in T-Mobile's decade-and-a-half history has been grating TV ads starring first Jamie Lee Curtis, then Catherine Zeta-Jones. What hasn't been consistent is its name or nationality. The company started as Western Wireless, which merged then spun off as VoiceStream Wireless. In 2001 it was bought and rebranded by Deutsche Telekom, the publicly traded remnant of the former state-owned German telephone company.


Henry Firestone started the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio, in 1900. The company expanded rapidly across the country and into all kinds of other businesses. In the 1970s the company had to pay the then-largest corporate fine ever after its radial tires were blamed in 34 deaths. The company cut back radically and sold itself to Japan's Bridgestone in 1988.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike?

For the last two years, Pennsylvania has been mulling over whether to offer a 75-year lease for its turnpike. If it does, the leading contenders are foreign. The deal has hit a snag because of analysis that shows the highest bid of $12.8 billion from a Spanish company is too low and would likely result in higher tolls and lower infrastructure funding.

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