Billionaire mogul Haim Saban says it’s his “ultimate” goal to help bring peace to the Middle East.
It’s a lofty aim if there ever was one, but if anyone’s got the guts, green and political clout to do so, it’s Saban. For this week’s cover story, I talked to the Egyptian-born, Israeli-raised Saban about how he spends his billions, his friendship with the Clintons and how he uses his political influence to keep Israel safe.
Haim Saban is sitting at the head of the table in his conference room on the 26th floor of his Century City tower offices. Here, he is kingpin, an image strongly reinforced by where he sits, as well as the attentiveness of his traditionally dressed office butler, who ducks in and out of the meeting continuously, pouring Pellegrino and serving cappuccinos.
Saban wears a white dress shirt and black sport coat with thick gold buttons. He has a broad, brawny stature and a deep, sonorous voice. His 66-year-old face is full of the sharp etchings of time, which makes him appear expressive even when he is not displaying emotion. He is naturally authoritative, though this, too, is reinforced by the austere decor — a dark, wood-paneled office with sweeping city views, from the Wilshire Country Club immediately below to the hills and sea in the distance.
On this afternoon, Saban is meeting with a roomful of representatives from the Israeli Leadership Council (ILC) who have come hoping to draw from the well of their favorite sugar daddy.
Lesson No. 1 in how to pitch to a billionaire: Speak a common language — or two.
“B’ivrit or b’anglit [Hebrew or English]?” Marissa Sharpe, director of operations for the ILC asks Saban. She is about to pitch the ILC’s latest initiative, “Netina” (giving).
“Anglit,” Saban tells her.