Israeli-U.S. Billionaire Haim Saban Returning to His Roots in Music With New Company

Power Rangers media mogul Saban plans a $500 million venture focusing on Latin music

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Haim Saban, creator of the "Power Rangers," poses at a ceremony honoring him with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, March 22, 2017ץ
Haim Saban, creator of the "Power Rangers," poses at a ceremony honoring him with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, March 22, 2017ץCredit: Willy Sanjuan,AP
Nimrod Halperin

Haim Saban, the Israeli American who made billions starting with the "Power Rangers" television series, is returning to his entertainment roots in music.

Saban said Thursday he had formed a new company called Saban Music Group, backed by $500 million of his own capital. The company will be led by Gustavo Lopez, a former music executive specializing in Latin music, whose company Talento Uno was bought by Saban in May.

Los Angeles-based Saban Music Group, or SMG, will focus on global artists, particularly those from Latin America, the development of new artists and acquisitions of existing businesses, Saban said.

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“Music has always been one of my life’s greatest passions — shaping, influencing and motivating me on a daily basis,” said Saban, who is 74.

“It is with great excitement that I reenter the music business — not only as a businessman but as someone who is passionate about the art, dedicated to the development of worldwide artists and wants to provide world-class entertainment.”

Saban, who was born in Egypt and grew up in Tel Aviv, landed as his first entertainment gig a booking for a nonexistent band. He then quickly formed a band and spent the following years as a concert promoter in Israel.

Moving to France and then the United States, Saban built a business producing music for television shows and eventually focusing on providing free music to cartoons in return for royalties. That led to his buying the rights to the Korean "Power Rangers" series and the start of a fortune now estimated at $2.9 billion.

Saban parlayed "Power Rangers" into the Fox Family Channel, a joint venture with News Corporation. He then bought back the franchise and later sold it back to Hasbro in 2017 for $522 million.

In 2007, Saban led a group of private equity investors in purchasing the Spanish-language TV network Univision Communications for $13.7 billion. He still chairs the company and holds a 7% stake, but the new outfit will remain apart from Univision even though the two businesses address the same market.

In Israel, Saban controls Partner Communications, the country's second-largest cellular company, and in the past co-owned Bezeq, the country's largest telecommunications company. He is a major contributor to the Taglit-Birthright program and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.

Saban is also a backer of Democratic Party candidates but last week launched an attack on Bernie Sanders.

“He thinks that every billionaire is a crook. He calls us ‘the billionaire class.’ And he attacks us indiscriminately. ‘It’s the billionaire class, the bad guys.’ This is how communists think,” Saban said.

So far, SMG has signed Colombian reggaeton artist Reykon and Puerto Rican YouTuber Daniel El Travieso from Lopez’s Talento Uno. Israeli pop pair Static and Ben El, and French singer Marie Monti have also signed. The only genre that is off limits is hip-hop.

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