With financial markets in turmoil and the U.S. economy in recession, we asked top entertainment and sports executives at the Reuters Media Summit for some investment advice.
Our question: "If we gave you $50,000, where would you invest?" One rule: They couldn't pick their own company. But then we thought $50,000 was too little for well heeled executives, so we switched it to $50 million. But that seemed excessive. After all, we're talking about personal investments -- so we settled on giving them a cool $1 million.
Here's what they said:
"In a pillow ... You might look at the energy sector, you might see what happens with gold. I've got cousins who work in the banking industry. When I asked them, they told me put it in my pillow. That is your answer."
-- Havas's MPG Chief Operating Officer Steve Lanzano
"I would be in the most conservative mechanisms I could -- treasury bills, whatever, absolutely. The old trite bromide about cash is king? Well, that is true and more true today than ever before."
-- Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig
"I'd put 40 percent of it into exceedingly high-yielding senior debt securities in a diversified array of businesses. I'd put 30 percent of it with a pretty diverse array of fund managers who have a strong track record of navigating choppy times in an array of strategies. And then I'd take the final 30 percent and buy Time Warner stock ... I will tell you why I love Time Warner. OK, so it's trading at 50 percent of book, and these are people who, post AOL, were incredibly aggressive about writing down their book value. So it's trading at 50 percent of essentially tangible books, tangibles you are going to get for a media company. They are not especially exposed to advertising. A lot of their revenues are very sticky. They still own their cable assets. You are getting a free option on the value of whatever happens in the spin-off. They generate, I think, $13 billion in EBITDA right now, if I'm not mistaken. And all their debt obligations are laddered out well into the future so they have no particular financing risk. So if you figure we have three horrible years ahead of us -- and I don't believe we do, but if you do -- they are perfectly fine from a capital point of view for the next few years. And even after all obligations, all repayments, all capex, they still generate loads of free cash flow. Even if you don't think they are particularly well-positioned strategically -- they are currently yielding 2.7 percent, and I see no reason for the dividend to go down."
-- Take Two Interactive Inc Chairman Strauss Zelnick