George B. Kaiser cemented his reputation as a devout philanthropist the same way he built the Bank of Oklahoma Financial Corporation; with a burning dedication. With a current net worth of $11 billion, he is ranked 43rd on Forbes World’s Richest People in 2009.
Fleeing from Nazi Germany in 1938, his family settled in Oklahoma where they would establish their gas and oil business. George Kaiser then became a prominent alumnus of Harvard University where he earned both undergraduate and master of business administration degrees. In 1969, he was at the helm of his family business, which flourished until it rose to the top ranks in private energy production as Kaiser-Francis Oil.
Today, the self-made billionaire’s financial portfolio covers a diverse range of businesses. George Kaiser owns a controlling $1.9 billion stake in his brainchild, Bank of Oklahoma. A recent investment is his purchase of over $1 billion in gas tankers, which would then be a factor in his 2008 sale of half of Excelerate Energy, the liquefied natural gas company.
He also acquired $412 million worth of gas reserves in Anadarko and Arkoma-based gas reserves from Chesapeake Energy. Other income streams are his private equity holdings, energy trading portfolios, as well as large derivatives from other interests. A well-known distinction is his sentiment that oil and gas industry players should be given a break during difficult time, thus, he suggests voluntarily redirecting tax incentives to education or healthcare projects.
In 2007, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, founded some seven years prior, committed a generous $12.4 million for the improvement of the rapidly deteriorating condition of the Arkansas River. The donation to the River Parks Authority will ensure the building of a dual-trail system for bikers and pedestrians, benches, fixed lighting, and several other much-needed amenities.
The foundation made headlines again with its matching grant of up to $25 million to three distinguished local educational institutions: Tulsa Community College ($4 million), Oklahoma State University ($9 million) and the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa ($12 million).
Another active philanthropic involvement is his foundation’s partnership with the First Five Years Fund. Recognizing early development and learning as an influential and more cost-effective solution in initiating social change, the First Five Years Fund was created as the private sector’s response.
Among his fellow billionaires, George Kaiser is known as one of the world’s most generous and charitable man.
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