Politics

Bernard Schwartz, Antiwar Executive Who Built an Arms Maker, Dies at 98

Bernard Schwartz, a New York investor and businessman who, despite being a staunch antiwar Democrat, took over the ailing Loral Corporation in the Bronx and turned it into a multibillion-dollar military contractor, died on Tuesday at his home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He was 98.

His wife, Denise Schwartz, confirmed his death.

Mr. Schwartz was a former accountant who had risen to be president of a large insurance firm. With no experience in doing business with the Pentagon, he was an unlikely choice to take over Loral, which was on the brink of bankruptcy when its two founders retired in 1972.

“I was an odd duck,” he said, or as he put it later in a memoir, “not your typical member of the military-industrial complex.”

But Mr. Schwartz racked up 96 straight quarters in which profits surpassed those of the comparable period the year before, a record believed matched only by General Electric in American corporate history. Loral (later known as Loral Space & Communications) soared in value to $13 billion by the time Mr. Schwartz sold the bulk of it to Lockheed Martin in 1996.

A maker of electronic weapons, countermeasures and communications systems, Loral was on the verge of going out of business and having its stock delisted when Mr. Schwartz acquired it in 1972. Mr. Schwartz, who had already become wealthy as the president of Reliance Insurance, invested $2 million in the company. He shed unrelated businesses and at the same time acquired more than 16 companies in defense electronics.

“Though I may be liberal in my political beliefs, I’ve always had a basically positive attitude toward the defense industry,” he later wrote. “A strong military seems vital to me as a way of preserving peace.”

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