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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 July 2006, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Profile: Tycoon Philip Anschutz
Close-up Philip Anschutz
Philip Anschutz, entrepreneur and conservative Republican
A row has erupted after it emerged Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and some of his civil servants stayed at tycoon Philip Anschutz's ranch in July last year as part of a nine-day trip to the United States. But who is Mr Anschutz?

Philip Anschutz has not given an interview for 30 years, so details of his private life are scarce.

What we do know is that the 66-year-old entrepreneur is extremely rich, is a devout Christian and is politically very conservative.

His wealth derives from oil and railways. If the latter seems incongruous in a car-dominated nation, it is largely because, shrewdly, he laid optic-fibre networks beneath the tracks he owned to create the giant telecommunications network, Qwest.

His umbrella organisation, Anschutz Investment Company, has tentacles which spread also to sports and leisure. He owns soccer, ice-hockey and basketball teams including the LA Lakers, as well as thousands of cinemas, and it's believed Qwest will be at the forefront of the move to distribute films via satellite.

Another of his firms, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), having acquired London's Millennium Dome and renamed it The O2 after a sponsorship deal, has announced plans to include Britain's only permitted super-casino in its development of the site.

Philip Anschutz has combined his business acumen with his religious principles through his movie-making Walden Media group. In a recent rare speech, he said he wanted to make movies "that have a positive effect on people's lives and on our culture".

The former Millennium Dome being refurbished
Work being done on the former Millennium Dome.
His films are intended to be "uplifting productions for all the family".

Last year, he combined with Disney to make The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, an adaptation of C.S. Lewis's classic children's novel and Christian allegory.

Walden is also in partnership with News Corp's Twentieth Century Fox to produce five films based on children's novels.

But Philip Anschutz has been criticised for his support of right-wing organisations in the United States. Most controversially, he has donated large sums to Colorado for Family Values, an overtly anti-gay organisation.

Qwest has also been investigated for financial irregularities. In 2003, he agreed to pay $4.4 million to settle allegations that he profited from falsely inflating the company's share price.

It is reported that Philip Anschutz owns one of the best collections of US Western art in the world, including important works by Georgia O'Keefe.

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